Butternut Squash and Polenta Bake

In our quest to eat more vegetarian meals, I bring you this incredible, hearty, seasonal dish. The beginning can be a bit hectic since you have all elements of the meal cooking at once. But then you combine it all into one bowl, pour it into one pan, put it into one oven and Voila! you’ve got yourself a delicious, easy-week-night, savory meal.

butternut squash and polenta bake

Ingredients
Source: Adapted from Food & Wine
One 2-pound butternut squash—peeled, seeded and sliced 1 inch thick
2 T. olive oil, plus more for the pan
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 (generous) tsp. dried sage
salt and pepper to taste
6 cups water
2 cups coarse polenta
1 T. butter
1 cup smoked Gouda
1/4 cup plus 2 T. parmesan cheese

Directions
NOTE: The first three steps all happen simultaneously, stay focused!
Preheat the oven to 375.
1. Arrange the squash on a large oiled baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until tender. Transfer the squash to a bowl and mash coarsely. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups.) Spread the pine nuts on a pie plate and toast in the oven for 4 minutes, until golden. Coarsely chop the nuts.
2. While squash is in the oven,in a skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and sage and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, 25 minutes; add a few tablespoons of water if the onion looks dry.
3. In a saucepan, bring the 6 cups of water to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until tender, about 30 minutes.
4. Stir in 1 tablespoon of butter along with the mashed squash, pine nuts, onion, Gouda and half of the grated cheese.
5. Pour the hot polenta into a buttered large cast-iron skillet. Flatten the top of the polenta slightly without spreading it to the edges; refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours OR place in freezer for about 20 minutes.
6. Rub the surface of the polenta with 1 T. softened butter and sprinkle with the remaining grated Parmigiano cheese. Bake for 1 hour, until the top and side are lightly browned and crisp. Let stand for about 10 minutes before cutting it into wedges.

Voila!

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