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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Italian Butternut Squash Casserole


From the Garden of Eden CSA this week I brought home a wonderful-looking butternut squash.
Round at the bottom, tapered towards the top like some gourds; it looked promising.
The only problem is, no one in my family eats squash except me.
Last night, when the refrigerator was pretty empty of anything "real" to cook, I took a stab at the squash.

Okay, there's not a whole lot that's Italian about this casserole, unless you count oregano, garlic powder, olive oil, and French bread. Still, I have to call it something. Here's how I did it. Please try it and let me know how you'd change it.

Laura's Italian Butternut Squash Casserole

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake one butternut squash whole for one hour at 350 degrees after stabbing repeatedly. (Do this to get your aggressions towards eating healthy food out at the very beginning, if you like.)
3-5 slices of stale French bread—toasted
Splash of olive oil
2 eggs or 1/4 cup egg plain substitute
a splash of milk or soy milk
About 1 and 1/2 cup grated cheese of any kind—maybe more
oregano and garlic powder—1 and 1/2 tsp each
1/2 large jar pasta sauce of your choice, so long as it's tomato-based

After squash is soft and cool enough to work with, remove seeds and discard. Then remove flesh from the squash and mash. (You don't want any peel.) Add two beaten eggs or egg substitute, a splash of milk, and herbs. Mix together until moderately smooth. A few small chunks aren't going to hurt.

In a small but relatively deep casserole pan, pour some olive oil. Place a slice of toasted bread on it.
Put a layer of cheese on that. Spoon some squash mixture onto this, keeping to the shape of the toast. A little spillover is okay, but you want this to be a bit like a layered loaf or lasagna.

Put another slice of toast on top of that, followed by a layer of cheese and another layer of squash mixture. Keep stacking until you've run out of bread, and put a layer of squash on the top of all that. Sprinkle some cheese on that, gently pour half a jar of pasta sauce, and cover with a light sprinkling of cheese.

Bake with foil lightly covering but not touching the top for 40 minutes; remove the foil for the last 15 minutes. Test with a knife to make sure the squash has set to a medium texture—not as soft as before, but not as firm as a cake or souffle.

Remove, cool slightly, and slice with a serrated knife. Try to serve so that the layers are preserved.
Can be served with hot sauce.

Okay, that's my first effort at squash casserole. Even my extraordinarily picky 17-year-old son ate some, and so did my husband. They both said it was good. I like it, although it may need sausage or more olive oil. As far as I can tell from reading about butternut squash, my family is now protected forever and ever from getting colds and diseases. That's how powerful squash is.

And that, even more than its taste, is probably why we should eat it.

Bon Apetit!

1 comment:

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

This sounds so good. I make butternut squash soup. Also bake it with brown sugar or maple syrup on top.