Butternut Squash & Mushroom Casserole

So often, dishes with butternut squash are sweet; and consequently, they tend to all taste the same. What’s nice about this casserole is that the mushrooms add an earthy, savory note that tones down the characteristic sweetness of the butternut squash, and sets it apart from every other butternut squash preparation we come across each fall.

1 T olive oil
2 thinly sliced green onions (I substituted a whole shallot)
8 c diced butternut squash
2 slices of bacon
14 oz mushrooms – I used some criminis and shiitakes; but the recipe called for chaterelles and oysters as well
1-1/2 T chopped fresh sage – I used 2 t powdered sage, which seemed like a LOT but it didn’t overpower the dish
1/4 c beef stock (I omitted this, and the result was fine – but it probably would have kicked the dish up a notch to include it)
2 oz parmesan (about 1/2 c)
2 T ricotta (I used cottage cheese, and I think you could probably skip it altogether)
salt & pepper

Saute the onions briefly in oil and stir in 6 cups of the squash. Salt it, saute for 2 minutes, then turn down the heat to medium-low and let it simmer, covered, until squash is tender, 15 minutes or so. Mash the squash and spoon into a 9×13 baking dish.

Cook the bacon in the same pan. Remove it when crisp, chop it and add to the squash in the baking dish. Saute the mushrooms and fresh sage in the bacon drippings, 8 minutes. (If you’re using powdered sage, just sprinkle it onto the cooked squash in the baking dish).

To add intense beefy flavor to the dish, stir the stock into the mushrooms, and cook for 3 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Dump mushrooms into the baking dish with the cooked squash.

Add everything else to the cooked squash – remaining 2 c uncooked squash, the cheeses, and some salt & pepper, and give it a good stir.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for an hour.

If you want to get fancy you can give the dish a topping: Instead of stirring everything together, reserve the bacon, half the parmesan and some of the mushrooms until the very end. Just sprinkle them on top of the cooked casserole, and set under a broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese and brown the mushrooms.


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