Butternut Squash Casserole: A Comforting Delight
Butternut squash, with its vibrant orange hue and naturally sweet flavor, is a versatile ingredient that shines in a variety of dishes. One such dish that captures the essence of fall comfort food is Butternut Squash Casserole. This heartwarming casserole combines the earthy richness of butternut squash with an array of complementary ingredients to create a satisfying and nutritious meal. In this 500-word article, we will take you through a step-by-step guide to crafting this delectable Butternut Squash Casserole.
To start your culinary journey towards this mouthwatering casserole, gather the following ingredients:
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup of fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary
- Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Roast the Butternut Squash
Begin by preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C). Next, take the peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash and place it in a large pot of boiling water. Let it cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the squash pieces become tender. Drain them and set them aside.
Step 2: Sauté the Aromatics
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, sautéing them until they become translucent and aromatic, which usually takes around 3-4 minutes.
Step 3: Add Bell Peppers and Spinach
To the sautéed onions and garlic, introduce the chopped red and green bell peppers. Continue to sauté this vibrant medley for another 3-4 minutes until the peppers start to soften. Incorporate the chopped fresh spinach and stir it in briefly until it wilts, adding both color and nutrients to your casserole.
Step 4: Assemble the Casserole
Now, it’s time to assemble your butternut squash casserole. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked butternut squash, sautéed vegetables, shredded cheddar cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs. This delightful mixture is the heart of your casserole.
Step 5: Prepare the Custard
In a separate bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, beaten eggs, dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper. This creamy custard mixture will bind all the ingredients together, giving your casserole a luscious texture and savory flavor.
Step 6: Bake to Perfection
Transfer the combined mixture into a greased casserole dish. Pour the creamy custard evenly over the top. Bake your casserole in the preheated oven for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until it turns golden brown and bubbly. The aroma that fills your kitchen during this time is a delightful preview of the deliciousness to come.
Enjoying the Butternut Squash Casserole:
Once your Butternut Squash Casserole is out of the oven, allow it to cool slightly before serving. The moment you take your first bite, you’ll experience the comforting embrace of butternut squash, the savory notes of cheeses and herbs, and the satisfying crunch of breadcrumbs. This casserole is a delightful balance of flavors and textures, making it an ideal choice for a cozy family dinner or a delightful addition to your holiday table.
In conclusion, Butternut Squash Casserole is a testament to the beauty of seasonal ingredients and their ability to create heartwarming dishes. This recipe showcases the natural sweetness and versatility of butternut squash, making it a beloved favorite for many. So, gather your ingredients, follow these simple steps, and treat yourself and your loved ones to the comforting delight of Butternut Squash Casserole.
- 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed into medium-size chunks
- 2 Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and cubed into larger chunks (to match the squash)
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- 2 tablespoons pure maples syrup, divided use
- ½ teaspoon ground, dried sage
- 1 ½ teaspoons Herbes de Provence
- ½ pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
- 2 small fennel bulbs (stalks/fronds removed), cut in half lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- Fresh sage leaves (fresh or fried), for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 425°, and line a baking sheet with foil lightly misted with cooking spray.
- Place you cubed butternut squash and apples into a large bowl, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle over a generous couple of pinches of salt and black pepper, along with 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup, the dried sage and the Herbes de Provence; toss to coat.
- Turn the mixture out onto your prepared baking sheet, and roast for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally for even roasting, or until the squash is tender.
- While the butternut squash and apples roast, place a large skillet (cast-iron is great) over medium-high heat, and add a small drizzle of olive oil; once the pan is very hot, add the crumbled sweet Italian sausage in and cook until browned and cooked through, a few minutes. Remove from the pan and keep in a bowl.
- If additional oil is needed in the pan/skillet, add a small amount in; then, add the sliced fennel and onion into the pan and caramelize together for about 10-12 minutes, or until deeply golden and a bit jammy in texture. Remove from pan and add to the sausage.
- Once the butternut squash and apples are tender and roasted, switch your oven setting to “broil”.
- To prepare the casserole, carefully spoon the roasted butternut squash/apples into a large bowl, and add the sausage/fennel/onion mixture to that. Pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon maple syrup and toss to combine (add a touch more salt and pepper to create a sweet-savory flavor), then spoon into a medium size (roughly 9 by 13) baking dish.
- If preparing fried sage leaves as a garnish, heat about ¼ cup of oil in a small sauce pan or pot, and once shimmering, add the sage leaves and fry for about 20 seconds, then remove them and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside.
- To finish the casserole, top with the grated Gruyere cheese and place into the oven under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden-brown.
- Garnish the butternut squash casserole with either the fried sage leaves or fresh ones, and serve.
- Pre-cut butternut squash, for convenience: Any time I can find some pre-packaged/pre-cut butternut squash, I opt for that. I appreciate not having to monkey around with peeling and seeding the whole squash. But if you have a whole squash on hand, feel free to use it, cutting it into medium-size chunks for the recipe.
- Sweet apples to use in this casserole: Honeycrisp apples are my favorites to eat and cook with, as they are both sweet and tart, not too hard nor too soft. Other varietals that are good are Golden Delicious, Gala, or Jonagold.
- Vegetarian butternut squash casserole: If you'd like to keep this casserole completely vegetarian, then simply omit the sweet Italian sausage, and proceed with caramelizing the fennel and onions. You could even use a vegan cheese in place of the Gruyere if you'd like to go completely vegan with this recipe, or just combine the ingredients and leave the cheese off altogether.
- Other cheeses to top the casserole with: Some other cheeses that would work well as a topper with this casserole are mozzarella, white cheddar, or Jack cheese. You could even crumble chunks of brie over top if you're looking for extra creamy decadence.
Nutrition InformationYield 1 Serving Size 6
Amount Per ServingCalories 1799Total Fat 81gSaturated Fat 36gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 38gCholesterol 220mgSodium 3024mgCarbohydrates 203gFiber 45gSugar 84gProtein 90g
The information contained herein is subject to change.