One of my favorite stories of my parents’ courtship, not surprisingly, involves food. Out to dinner one night early on in their dating days, my father declared a vehement opposition to squash. Any and all squash. He was a squash bigot. My vegetable-loving mother questioned her ability to go on with such a man. (It should be noted here that my father was raised in Brooklyn, NY in an entirely Irish Catholic neighborhood in the ’40s and ’50s, which means he ate nothing but meat and potatoes well into adulthood. The man grew up in NY and didn’t have pizza until I was in high school. WHAT is that madness? But I digress…)
So, my LA-raised mother decided something needed to be done about this prejudice against a vegetable. She did what any budding housewife would do – she tricked him. As they got a bit more serious, she invited him to her place for a home cooked meal. Complete with meat, potatoes, and…carrots? There, on my father’s plate, was a pile of something orange, creamy and buttery. He ate every bite, exclaiming – probably with his mouth full – “what did you do to these carrots?! They’re great!” (and yes, you may insert the Tony the Tiger grreeat there if you wish) My mother snickered, declared her intellectual dominance, and come Saturday, they will celebrate 40 squash-filled years of marriage. I’m sure many Hail Marys have been said to make up for his unethical treatment of squash.
I tell this story, 1. because it amuses me. If you’ve met my cartoon character-like father, it will amuse you too. He’s thoroughly awesome – and a much more adventurous eater than his 1968 self. 2. because I made another healthy recipe for Jackie last night and it was made out of squash. So the story is relevant. So there.
I have no idea what this is. It’s some dark leafy green we got in our vegetable co-op box of tricks on Friday. It resembles really thick spinach. I figured it couldn’t hurt anything to saute it after the onions and throw it in for some added healthfulness, and it didn’t.
Oh, and since it’s NOT Meatless Monday, I included some Trader Joe’s spicy chicken sausage to throw on top. Didn’t stop us from eating almost the whole dang thing.
Butternut Squash Gratin with Blue Cheese and Sage
(adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves 6 (or 2, if you live in my house)
5 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
1 (1 1/2-ounce) slice white bread*
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Steam butternut squash, covered, 10 minutes or until tender.
3. Place bread in a food processor, and pulse 12 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1/2 cup. Transfer to a small bowl; add 2 teaspoons oil, and toss with a fork to combine. *I did not do this step – I pulled a weeknight lazy and used half a cup of Panko breadcrumbs instead.
4. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onion to pan; saute 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl. Add butternut squash, chopped sage, salt, and black pepper to bowl, and toss gently to combine. Spoon squash mixture into an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese evenly over squash mixture, and sprinkle evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and crumbs are golden brown.
B was really hungry…we didn’t really wait for the “golden brown” part to happen. “Hot” was good enough.