February 10, 2011

Parmesan Baked Butternut Squash

I love this!

It bakes up into a bubbling creamy casserole reminiscent of baked macaroni and cheese, but with the sweet nutty taste of butternut squash and the warm taste of sage.

If you grow your own sage, use just one dried leaf and rub it gently in between your fingers to crush it into little fuzzy bits just before you add it to the rest of the ingredients. For the best flavor, harvest your sage just before the plant begins to flower. I like to cut my herbs in the morning, as soon as the dew has evaporated. I tie a few sprigs together and then I tie them loosely in the opening of a paper bag. I hang the bag in a clean, dry, dark place for a couple of weeks, until the leaves dry. Then I store those dry leaves in a little jar in my spice drawer.

I realize, however, that sage is a love it or hate it kind of herb. Some people really like it... others, not so much. That's okay! Omit the sage, if you wish. This dish is also nicely flavored by the minced garlic simmering and caramelizing in the cheesy sauce... you do like garlic, don't you???PARMESAN BAKED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

4 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup evaporated milk (or use cream!)
a pinch of crushed dry sage (optional)
a pinch of salt
a pinch of black pepper

For the topping:
1/3 cup bread crumbs seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butternut squash, garlic, parmesan cheese, evaporated milk, sage, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Pour into a well buttered 2 quart size baking dish. Stir bread crumbs and melted butter together and sprinkle over top of butternut. Bake for about an hour, until bubbling and golden on top. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

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