Friday, November 22, 2013

Squash and Apple Thanksgiving Casserole

by Sheila Connolly

Thanksgiving dinner at our house was always the same:  turkey with Pepperidge Farm Stuffing from a bag, mashed potatoes, gravy, something green (frozen peas/beans/broccoli), and cranberry sauce out of a can.  After a while we could all make it in our sleep, knowing exactly when each step of the process had to begin.  Once I made a daring departure and tried out a stuffing with (gasp) sausage, which was met with stony silence from the rest of the family.  Back to the bread stuffing I went. Don’t mess with tradition.

But the world is full of culinary wonders!  I’m trying out a new recipe that combines butternut squash and apples.  This year for the first time I can use apples from my own trees, which produced a very nice crop (I can’t claim it’s due to my extraordinary abilities, but I’ve been enjoying the results right along).

A note about butternut squash:  you can buy it peeled and cubed at most markets.  While I am a firm believer in doing things from scratch (and my cute little squashes here came from the last local farmers market), the @#$%& things are hard to peel and cut, and I’d hate to have you whack off a finger, especially right before Thanksgiving.  Take the easy way out and buy it, with my blessing.

The interesting thing about squash/apple recipes is that they can’t decide whether they want to be sweet or savory.  My personal preference is savory, because sweet vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes have always made me gag, and there’s cranberry sauce to add both color and sweetness to the meal.  (And don’t forget dessert!)

From my own tree!

Baked Butternut Squash and Apples

3 Tblsp butter, melted

1½ lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch cubes (another note:  don’t feel bad if your cubes aren’t perfect—just don’t make them too big)

2-3 large apples (you don’t need to peel them, but pick a variety that holds up well to cooking—I used Cortlands), cored and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
The pieces should all be about the same size
1 small sweet onion (Vidalia), coarsely chopped

¼ cup flour

½ cup chicken stock (or you may use apple juice or apple cider)

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a casserole or glass baking pan.

In a large bowl, place the cubed squash, apples and onions.  Toss with the flour, then the melted butter, to cover evenly.  Add salt and pepper.

Ready for the oven
Place the squash-apple mixture in the casserole or baking dish and pour the liquid over it.  Cover it if you like—the top isn’t going to brown anyway, and it will cook more evenly top to bottom. Bake until the squash is tender (about 45 minutes).  This can be made ahead (always a good thing for Thanksgiving!)

Ready to serve!
Variations:  the most common addition is cinnamon, followed closely by maple syrup.  If you like your vegetables sweet, either would be good.  On the savory side, other mavericks suggest adding cheddar or blue cheese, bacon, balsamic vinegar, whole-grain mustard, rosemary or time (not all in the same dish!). 

You know the people gathered around your table.  Make what you think they’d like, and enjoy each other’s company!
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  1. Sorry, but I can't resist pointing out that you automatically add "time" in the process of making the recipe. You might, however, choose to add "thyme" as well. ; o )

  2. I'm with you on sweet vegetables cooked with even sweeter ingredients. Love the idea of adding bacon and/or bllue cheese to this. How could you go wrong with such yummy ingredients. We do our sweet potatoes with the marshmallow topping out of tradition but it's the one thing I rarely touch--I'd rather have garlic mashed potatoes instead. Or a recipe I just found that adds things like chipotle peppers to sweet potatoes.

  3. Sheila sounds delish. I agree about how hard it is to peel a butternut squash. I'm sure there's an easy way, but I haven't found it. Cleo showed using a peeler a couple of weeks ago. I think I have to revisit that post.

    Daryl / Avery

  4. Happy Thanksgiving, Sheila, to you and your family. This is a great recipe, and I am all in for the addition of bacon and blue cheese, too. And yes, you are right Daryl/Avery, the Y peeler works well on a butternut squash. Now, if I can only find an easy way to cut fresh beets.

    ~ Cleo

  5. Cleo, I made a beet salad the other night with roasted beets and by the time I was done peeling them it looked like someone had been murdered in my kitchen!

  6. This looks great, Sheila. I love the little turkeys!

    And congrats on Reunion with Death. You sure have a lot of energy!

  7. Sheila,

    This looks fabulous. We may try this at Christmas, when I usually serve acorn squash or roasted butternut as a side dish. I prefer savory, so will definitely add the bacon & cheese!

    PS ~ It made me smile to know there's someone else out there who has a terrible gag reflex to sweet potatoes! ;)