Easy Vegetarian Dinner: Butternut Squash Casserole
Our vegetable garden was prolific this summer, but truth be told, my butternut squash did not have it’s best year. Our yield was exactly one lonely squash. I guess the bees were just more interested in making eggplants this season? Whatever the reason, I was determined to do something very special with our single prized beauty. This Butternut Squash Casserole was just the ticket. The cheesy sauce makes this hearty enough to serve as dinner if you’re vegetarian or observing meatless Mondays. It’s reminiscent of a really good, classic mac & cheese—but the squash adds a load of vitamins and fiber to up your nutritional game. The recipe makes a ton, so you can go the individual ramekin route as it recommends, with the idea that you’ll have plenty for leftovers, too. (We got one dinner plus lunch for the week.)
I made a few changes to this recipe while I was making it. I substituted curly spiralini pasta for whole wheat macaroni elbows (subtracting nutrition but gaining style points) and added some crushed red pepper and chopped garlic to the squash when I roasted it for a little extra kick.
I used a combination of fresh goat cheese and grated Parmesan in place of the cheddar cheese because I liked how it made the sauce extra creamy, while the Parmesan gave a nice crusty brown finish on top.
Last, I added a handful of fresh rosemary and sage from my garden to round out the fall harvest goodness. If I make this again, I might swap it up once more and use this combination of gnocci and kale, which looks pretty stellar as well.
Because I don’t own enough individual meal-sized ramekins, I simply baked one big batch of the recipe in one of my larger casserole dishes. It needed a little extra time and a few minutes under the broiler to get nice and brown, but otherwise worked out just fine. The casserole was delicious fresh out of the oven, when everything was just so perfectly gooey and crispy. The cheese did dry out a bit overnight, so when I heated this up for lunch the next day, I added a swirl of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, which brightened the flavor in a lovely way.
This would be a great recipe to bring to potlucks or pull out whenever you’re feeding a crowd. I’ll certainly add it to my fall rotation—and remember it as a major incentive when I plant next year’s butternut squash crop.