Winter Squash Casserole

Butternut squashlove squash.

Always have –– even as a kid. I am pretty much the only one who eats it in my house, though. Occasionally I can coax one of my kids to take a bite. But it’s rare, and usually because it came out of our garden. They are more receptive to eating what we grow ourselves. My husband, however, threatened to have lawyers on the phone if I ever grow another zucchini.

I happily eat all varieties, but my favorites are the winter squashes. Since zucchini was obviously not an option when I planted my garden this past spring, I was really excited about my Butternut and Dumpling squash plants. I was really looking forward to that caramel taste of roasted squash and the creamy texture of some squash soup.

Alas, my dreams were short lived. Moles attacked my planters and ate right through the bottom of them. I came out one morning to find dirt mounds next to where my squash plants should have been. Rotten little buggers!

There is new hope however. When I was in the garden over the weekend, I noticed that there were little squash plants starting to randomly pop up all over. One even had a tiny squash on it. The moles have apparently been spreading the seeds. (How nice of them.) The scene is reminiscent of one of my daughter’s favorite books “Too Many Pumpkins” by Linda White. (It’s a great kids book for October and Halloween!)

The good news is that I might actually get to make some of my favorite squash recipes using squash that came from my own garden (or rather, the moles’ garden). One of my all time top dishes is listed below. I do prefer to use the pecans instead of the pumpkin seeds. To me they make it taste more like fall. Enjoy!

Winter Squash Casserole
The Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook by Matt & Ted Lee

3 1/2 lbs. winter squash, such as butternut, kabocha, or acorn, peeled and cut in 1/4″ thick slices (about 6 cups)
5 Tbls unsalted butter, plus some for the pan
1 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
2 lg yellow onions, trimmed, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)
1 cup whole or low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme
1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably homemmade, toasted
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C pumpkin seeds or pecans, toasted
2 C grated cheddar cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or a 4-quart casserole. Place 3 quarts of water into a large stockpot, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add the squash to the water, return to a boil, and cook for 6 minutes. The squash will turn a deeper orange. Drain the squash and set aside.

Melt the butter in the stockpot and add the oil. Add the onions and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent and limp (about 8 minutes). Stir the onions to prevent browning. Add the warm squash and the buttermilk, eggs, thyme, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds or pecans and 1 1/3 cups cheese. Blend with a wooden spoon or spatula until the ingredients are well combined.

Spread the mixture evenly in the baking dish and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the dish with the remaining 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds or pecans and 2/3 cup cheese. Bake 15 minutes more until the cheese is bubbling and gently browning. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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