Butternut Squash and “Sausage” Bake

Butternut SquashOh Serious Eats, you are seriously a great recipe source. Seriously. So is our friend Jen who pointed me to this recipe. She cooks it annually as part of her orphan Thanksgiving group, but mentioned that it would be something easily converted to vegetarian for someone like me, a dirty vegetarian.

A few notes:

  • We are not the kind of cooks that have fresh thyme hanging around. The dry equivalent of one sprig is 1/2 teaspoon.
  • We used a pretzel bread roll which made it tasty. If you don’t have individual slices, 3 slices of bread equals about 3 ounces.
  • We took either Tofurky Italian sausage or Trader Joe’s Italian sausage and introduced them to a food processor. We went with a full 12 ounces of sausage for a heartier meal.

Butternut Squash and Sausage Bake (adapted from Serious Eats)

  • 12 ounces Tofurkey or Trader Joe’s Italian sausage
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 3 sweet onions, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 5 fresh thyme sprigs or 2 1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2 cubes, (about 6 cups) seeds and scrapings reserved
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup shredded smoked mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup extra flavor vegetable stock (2 teaspoons veggie stock in 3/4 cup water)
  • 3 slices bread, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9″ x 12″ inch baking dish. Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until it just begins to brown. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons oil, onions, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When onions are thoroughly soft, remove and set aside. While the onions cook, simmer the squash seeds and scrapings in the vegetable stock for 10 minutes, strain and keep the stock warm over low heat.

Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Toss the squash with the flour and arrange in a single layer in the skillet. Let the squash brown, undisturbed, for 4 minutes then stir the squash as it cooks for the next 4 minutes. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and set aside.

To assemble the casserole:

  • Layer the onions in the buttered baking dish.
  • Evenly layer the sausage over the onions.
  • Top with the squash.
  • Sprinkle the mozzarella over the top.
  • Pour the stock into the baking dish
  • Press the top of the casserole with a spatula to evenly distribute.
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

While the casserole bakes, pulse the bread crumbs with the (optional) melted butter in a food processor until you have coarse bread crumbs. After 30 minutes remove the foil and top casserole evenly with breadcrumbs and bake uncovered an additional 20 to 30 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the top is nicely browned.

Serves 8 side servings, or 6 main dish servings.

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