I have to say, squash can seem like an intimidating vegetable. It’s big and awkward and has a tough outer shell. Have no fear though because cooking a squash is super simple. Just put it on a cookie sheet, stab it a few times with your favorite knife and pop it in the oven. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. After an hour that tough shell loosens to reveal a creamy, buttery center. Yum.
After you bake your squash, add lots of garlic, parmesan and a touch of cream then balance all of the savory flavors with a bit of sweet by adding some dried berries. This is an extremely easy recipe that’s dressed to impress. This smashed squash is unique enough to be a holiday side dish or simply served along side a casual entree, like these roasted chicken thighs. Do it. You know you want to.
Baked Butternut Squash with Garlic and Dried Berries
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Yields: Serves 6
1 small butternut squash (about 3-4 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley (or basil)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dried berries (I used cranberries and blueberries)
Preheat oven to 375F. Pierce squash a few times with sharp paring knife (to let steam escape). Bake squash for 60 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces easily through skin with little resistance. Let squash cool for 10 minutes.
Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove and discard the seeds. Peel the skin off and set aside. If the squash seem difficult to scrape, return the squash to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Heat a large saute pan with the butter and the garlic over medium-low heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add parsley, salt and squash. Toss well, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and taste to see if you need additional salt. Add the berries and serve hot with butter.
Wow, can you believe that it’s November already? Where did this last month go? I’m going to have to think about Christmas shopping pretty soon. *shutters* Not my favorite activity. I’m impatient enough as it is, and when you throw in screaming children and long lines of people at the checkout counters, it gives me nightmares.
Anywho, let’s talk about more positive things… like chilly weather and comfort foods.
I made this vegetarian penne last weekend for my community symphony. This pasta is rich and not for the feint of heart, and absolutely perfect for feeding many hungry mouths. It’s packed with lots of vegetables masked by luscious cream, gorgeous garlic and bubbly cheese. Words that speak straight to my heart.
Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the onion, summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic in butter until tender.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, seasonings and cream until smooth; add to the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Drain pasta and add to vegetable mixture and gently stir everything together. Pour the pasta into a greased square pan. Top with Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 20 minutes.
I tripled this recipe for a potluck I attended and baked the pasta in a 9 x 13-inch pan instead.
I woke up today especially groggy eyed and hungry. I needed something to eat that would stick to my ribs and satisfy that bottomless pit of a stomach I have.
I previously purchased local goat cheese and put this recipe together with leftover scraps of potatoes and a lone squash that had sat in my crisper for a week. It was relatively easy to make overall except I could not find my mandoline for the life of me. Instead, I patiently sliced each vegetable to a uniform size and imagined where my mandoline could be. Maybe it decided to take a vacation. Or maybe one of those darned gnomes grabbed it (they are always taking things from my kitchen or laundry basket). Maybe I lost it during the move. We may never know.
There isn’t a ton of cheese or cream in this so the fresh vegetables are the star. This kept for days and worked great for brunch or as a side dish too. It wasn’t too heavy but it did fill me up enough to make it to lunch. Enjoy!
Use a mandoline or chef's knife to slice the squash and potatoes into very, very thin slices, 1/8-inch or less. Toss the sliced vegetables with the olive oil in a large bowl.
Pour a small drizzle of olive oil in a casserole dish (around 8 or 9 inches square) and spread it around the bottom and sides. Place 1/3 of the squash and potato slices in the bottom of the dish—no need to layer them squash-potato-squash-etc.—then season with salt and pepper. Top with half of the goat cheese, scattered evenly in large chunks. Repeat with another 1/3 of the vegetables, seasoning again with salt and pepper and topping with the other 1/2 of the goat cheese. Finish by layering on the final 1/3 of the vegetables and seasoning with salt and pepper.
Pour the milk over the entire dish. Top with the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 more minutes, until the top browns. Scatter on the fresh basil, if using.
Quinoa is magical, isn’t it? It fills your belly but it doesn’t fill your waste-line. Quinoa is one of those healthy grains that you can manipulate to make it your own too. I like to cook mine in broth and add fresh herbs and veggies. This salad is tasty at any temperature too – great for those outdoor parties where you don’t necessarily have access to a stove or oven.
My porch garden is doing surprisingly well this year, considering the hot summer we are having. These guys are in full bloom.
And I’m using them in full force. This summer salad is fresh and easy and great for those times when you come home from the farmer’s market and realize that you can’t recall anything that happened in the last two hours but somehow came home with bags and bags of produce.