Walking through the grocery store a few weeks ago, I noticed that butternut squash is no longer being stashed in the back of the produce section. It's slowly but surely inching it's way into the spotlight. I love butternut squash and cannot believe that I have posted zero -- yep, zero -- blog posts which reference butternut squash. I love this squash variety and I just don't know how I've managed to overlook it for the past year and a half.
With this in mind, I greedily eyed the beautiful, large butternut squash as I continued on my way through the store. Since I was actually picking up ingredients for another recipe, I decided to stay the course and come back the following week for my coveted butternut squash.
One week later: I rolled into the grocery store, super excited to pick up the beautiful butternut squash that I had seen a week earlier. What I actually found were 3 small to medium sized butternut squash that appeared to be the sad leftovers of last week's gorgeous bounty. Of course by this time I had already committed (internally, at least) to making a dish with butternut squash, so I snagged two of the squash anyway. I also picked up a few zucchinis, because everything's better with zucchini.
A little bit later, I got back to our kitchen with no real idea of what I wanted to make with these vegetables. I was thinking of maybe throwing together another galette, similar to what I had seen on the Smitten Kitchen website, but since I made one of these recently I wanted to branch out. I eventually found a few recipes for something called a "bake".
Hmmm...what exactly is a bake? Non-technically (since this is the culinary language that I speak), it's very similar to a casserole. So I grabbed all the vegetables up and tossed them together for a unique bake.
Zucchini & Butternut Squash Bake
- 2 small zucchini, sliced into rounds (or 1 medium to large zucchini)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2-4 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- pinch of sugar
- 3 lbs butternut squash, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 3 garlic scapes, diced finely
- 1 clove garlic
- handful basil leaves (~8-10 leaves), julienned
- ~1 cup parmesan cheese
- ~1/2 cup fontina cheese
- additional salt and pepper to taste (if necessary)
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Spread the zucchini out over several layers of paper towels.
3) Sprinkle with a tsp of salt and let drain for ~30 minutes. Gently pat the zucchini dry with paper towels before using.
4) Meanwhile, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook the onion over medium heat with 1/2 tsp of salt and a pinch of sugar. Stir occasionally until soft and lightly golden brown The exact timing for this step will depend on the level of heat applied. It took about 30 minutes for my onions to be done, but it could take longer.
5) Saute the butternut squash and sweet potato in 2 tbsp butter (or olive oil). Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Note: I sauteed the vegetables using what I refer to as the "stir and steam" method. This is when I stir the vegetables, then place the cover over the pan for a few minutes. Then, guess what, I stir again and replace the cover for a few minutes. Repeat until vegetables are softened, but still a bit firm (I did this for ~20 mins, but I would suggest maybe only 15 mins).
6) Add the butternut squash, sweet potatoes, onions, zucchini, garlic scapes, jalapenos, garlic, and basil leaves together in a large bowl and toss to incorporate. Add more salt and pepper if you think it's necessary.
7) Pour into a buttered/greased 9 x 11 inch pan.
8) Sprinkle cheeses on top.
9) Bake for ~30 minutes, or until vegetables are at the desired consistency and cheese is melted.
8) Let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This could really be my new favorite vegetable combination. The smell was "warm" and "hearty". Are these real smells? I don't actually care. If you could bottle a whiff of fall in a dish, this would be it. The entire dish, when eaten together, was sweet and savory at the same time. The butternut squash and sweet potatoes were really the meat of the dish and provided a robust texture. The caramelized onions wrapped themselves around with the starches and gave them a sweeter taste. The zucchinis and garlic scapes added a little crunch and texture to the dish. I know that sage is usually the preferred herb when working with butternut squash but since we had fresh basil on hand, that's what I ended up using. The basil's scent and flavor really served to enhance this dish. The great thing about this dish is that I can add in or take away vegetables pretty easily, since the recipe is so adaptable. Try a unique version yourself and let me know how it turns out!