Butternut Squash Casserole

If you don’t have a cheesy/creamy casserole or five at your Thanksgiving meal, does it even count as Thanksgiving?  Debatable.  This butternut squash casserole is a vegetable spin on mac’n’cheese.  And we include tips on how to make it fully gluten-free.  But don’t worry, we never skimp on the cheese sauce.

From AnkarsrumUSA recipe developer, Carmi Adams:

Butternut squash can be a little cumbersome to chop into if you aren’t familiar with it.  I find it easiest to slice off the top and bottom (creating a flat surface on either end) and then slice off the thinner top away from the bulbous bottom.  These two chunks can then be peeled either using a sturdy vegetable peeler or a sharp knife.  Just make sure to have a flat surface of the squash resting on the cutting board if using a knife to peel.  Sharp knives and vegetables rolling around are not a good combination.

Once peeled, cut the bottom in half and scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy flesh. Chop into chunks and grate.

 

Substituting a vegetable for noodles and making sure it had a similar texture was a little more complicated than I anticipated.  Unlike noodles, vegetables can quickly go from toothsome to mushy, and also release a fair amount of moisture as they are cooking.  After testing out several different ways to cook them, I found that blanching and shocking them worked best.

Blanching and shocking just means, cook for a couple minutes in boiling water and then plunge into ice cold water to stop the cooking process, ensuring that the vegetables don’t become overcooked.

 

Once the squash was cooked and cooled down, I found a final step extremely important: squeezing out excess moisture.  I was surprised by how much water came out.

Gently squeeze out excess water, making sure to not smash the squash. Use hands to fluff back up once done.

 

The squash can be made up to this point and then stored in the fridge for up to a day.  Just let come to room temperature before using the next day.

The cheese sauce is fairly straightforward.  A little garlic and sage added in some nice Thanksgiving-ish flavors and the breadcrumbs on top added a good crunchy texture.

Once cheese sauce is made, gently fold into squash, place in casserole dish, top with breadcrumbs, and then broil a few minutes to brown. Done! No long bake time because we want that squash texture to stay just the way it is.

 

I am happy to report that my daughter, who has never met a cooked vegetable she liked (although she’ll eat them raw all the time), happily scarfed this down.  Cheese sauce is a pretty great vehicle to get kids to eat vegetables, or try new things.

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments about this recipe.  As the holiday season begins to approach, we hope life gives you moments and loved ones to be thankful for, and delicious food to fill stomachs and hearts with.

Butternut Squash Gratin

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

 

For the squash:

908 g. (2 pounds) peeled and seeded butternut squash, approximately 1362 g. or 3 pounds whole squash

16 g. (2 tsp.) kosher salt

For the cheese sauce:

14 g. (1 Tbsp.) unsalted butter

14 g. (1 Tbsp.) olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 g. (1 1/2 tsp.) dry rubbed sage

15 g. (2 Tbsp.) all purpose flour*

184 g. (3/4 cup) whole milk

57 g. (1/4 cup) sour cream

339 g. (12 oz.) sharp cheddar cheese, grated

For the breadcrumbs:

57 g. (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted

pinch kosher salt

95 g. (1 cup) panko bread crumbs**

42 g. (1.5 oz.) finely grated Parmesan cheese

 

For the squash:

Set up the Ankarsrum mixer with the slicer/grater attachment and regular size grating drum.  Place a large bowl underneath to catch squash.  Cut the butternut squash into large chunks able to fit through the attachment.  Turn speed on high (6 o’clock) and use the plunger to help push the squash through.

In a 6-8 quart stock pot, bring 3 quarts of water and the 16 g. (2 tsp.) kosher salt to a boil.  While the water comes to a bowl, ready a large bowl of ice water, a large clean kitchen towel and a fine mesh strainer.

Once water is boiling, add the grated squash and cook for three minutes.  Immediately drain, and then place squash in ice water to stop cooking.  Once cool, drain the squash from the ice water and remove any ice cubes.  Place squash in the middle of a large kitchen towel.  Gather towel up and gently squeeze to remove excess water.  Use fingers to fluff squash up.

Place in a large bowl and set aside until ready to use.  Alternately, squash can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to a day in advance.  Bring to room temperature before using.

For the cheese sauce: 

In a 2 quart pot, heat the butter and oil over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Add in the garlic and sage and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute.  Sprinkle the flour in, and cook another minute, still constantly stirring to prevent garlic from burning.  Slowly pour milk in, whisking continuously to prevent lumps.  Whisk in sour cream.  Cook, whisking frequently, for 3-4 minutes until mixture begins to thicken.

Add the cheese and cook and whisk until cheese is fully melted.

Gently fold cheese sauce into squash.  Spoon mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish.

For the breadcrumbs:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Sprinkle over top of casserole dish.

Broil casserole on high for 3-4 minutes, until bread crumbs are browned.

Serve.

Cook’s Notes:

*all purpose flour can be replaced with 14 g. (2 Tbsp.) whole wheat flour for a whole grain version OR 7 g. (1 Tbsp.) cornstarch for a gluten-free version.

**Panko breadcrumbs can be replaced with an equal amount of whole wheat panko breadcrumbs OR gluten-free panko breadcrumbs.  Both these items are found in the grocery store next to regular panko breadcrumbs.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Published by

Carmi Adams

Carmi Adams has loved cooking from a very early age; requesting fondue pots and cookbooks for birthdays as a child. She further pursued her passion for food at the Art Institute of Atlanta and obtained a degree in Culinary Arts. Carmi landed a job on the show Good Eats, which aired on the Food Network. For seven years she did everything from food research, recipe development and testing, product testing to feeding a hungry film crew. Now living in the central coast of California, Carmi enjoys the bounty of agriculture, vineyards and farmers markets at her culinary disposal. She has been using the Ankarsrum mixer for over 15 years and feels that it is hands-down the best on the market for home cooks.