I’m not really a post-recipes-on-the-blog sort of person. This is not to cast aspersions on those who do – and indeed, I enjoy a recipe-posting blog just as much as the next girl. In fact, if I’m hunched over my computer, late on a deadline, too stressed to get up and make myself a sandwich, sometimes reading the oft-heavily-photographed displays of somebody else’s culinary endeavors can be…..voyeuristically satisfying. Sorta like food porn. Sometimes I can do that instead of the actual sandwich.
(Who am I kidding? I will always opt for the sandwich. Always.)
So I posted a recipe a while back, and I felt that I was done. Finito. I did it once and I don’t ever need to do it again. (I suspect many a meth-head said similar words once upon a time.) This is not a recipe blog.
However, when the lovely Stephanie Pellegrin put out an impassioned plea on Twitter for a squash casserole recipe, I leaped into action. Unfortunately, not only do I not post recipes, I don’t really use them either. I’m a shoot-from-the-hip type. Even if I have a recipe, I typically go off-trail, so to speak. I’m a culinary bushwacker.
So I had to do some deep thinking in order to recreate how I make this dish. This is as close as I can get it.
Now, I don’t have any experience cooking casseroles. Growing up in Minnesota, I have had too many casseroles foisted upon my person in the potlucks of my youth. They appear in my fiction only – typically in some sort of sinister situation. They do not emerge from my kitchen and they certainly have no place on my table.
This is not a casserole.
It is, however, a rather satisfying use of a good butternut squash. It can be eaten warm, right from the oven, or room temperature, spooned on some chewy sour dough bread, or cold, tossed with some greens. You can serve it along side scrambled eggs, toss it on noodles or shovel it straight into your mouth while standing in the glow of the refrigerator at one a.m. because you were feeling peckish. It refrigerates nicely, and is FANTASTIC a day or two later.
This is what you’ll need:
1 good sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced.
1/4 cup olive oil.
1/4 cup good maple syrup
a small bunch of fresh sage leaves, bruised and minced (DO NOT USE DRY AS IT WILL TASTE TERRIBLE. if you don’t have fresh, skip the sage)
One purple onion, sliced thin
One goodly amount of fresh arugula or other dark green (like two or three good-sized handfuls)
One can Cannelli beans (you could use navy beans I suppose, but they won’t be as good. Cannelli have that nice meaty texture and feel better in the mouth. Some other options would be butter beans or fava beans – but I haven’t tried either, so I can’t endorse them)
Lots of salt and pepper
a handful of toasted cashews, optional.
This is what you’ll do:
Toss the butternut squash in the maple syrup, oil, sage and salt and pepper until evenly coated. Turn it out into one or two baking pans – you want it in a single layer – and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. The squash should turn fragrant and gooey and browned. If you like a richer caramel, then at the end of the 40 minutes, turn on the broiler for thirty seconds to get that rich color. BUT IF YOU DO THIS WATCH IT LIKE A FREAKING HAWK.
While the squash is cooking, put your onions in a dry saute pan on very low heat. Cover and cook for ten minutes, stirring and shaking occasionally. After ten minutes, increase the heat to medium and add two tablespoons of olive oil (you could add another teaspoon of maple syrup too, just to be fancy). Cook on medium heat for another five minutes. Add your greens and allow to wilt. Once the greens are ONLY BARELY WILTED, add your beans and salt and pepper.
Take your squash out of the oven, toss with the onions and beans and greens and squeeze the half lemon over the whole thing. Sprinkle with the cashews if you’re using them, or with another scant handful of raw greens and serve.
Now you can manipulate this recipe any way you want – add a chopped red bell pepper to the squash for some added color. Parsley or Thai basil might also be nice additions. Or whatever. You’ll probably come up with something way better than this. But I like this dish quite a bit, and I’d probably eat it every day were it not for the fact that my stinkin’ husband is some sort of insane squash hater. My kids, on the other hand LOVE this dish, and often demand several helpings.
More proof that our kids are ALWAYS better versions of ourselves.