Monday, March 12, 2012

Lengthy and Lovely

Before this weekend, I had never eaten butternut squash. Are you surprised? I fed it to my baby, but I never ate it. But when I made the baby food, it looked so pretty and smelled so good that I knew I should be eating it. When I ran across this recipe in a cooking magazine (Cuisine at Home, I think), I pulled it out. Keith had saved seeds from our baby food squash, so I thought I would just file it away until we grew some of our own. Then I picked up another squash at the farmers' market, thinking I was going to need to make more baby food, but Bert is rapidly moving onto finger foods. So there I was, with an unallocated butternut squash on my hands. Four hours and a disaster of a kitchen mess later, I had a really tasty dish. Four hours is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much, because I had to roast my squash first.

Squash Spoon Bread

2 1/2 cups cooked butternut squash*
1/2 cup cooked carrots

*I cut mine in half and roasted it in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until tender. Half of my large squash made the 2 1/2 cups needed for the recipe.

Saute in 1 tablespoon butter:
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

Add; bring to a boil:
1 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

Whisk in:
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

Cornmeal mixture
Squash/carrot puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Beat; fold in:
3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in the middle. Puree cooked vegetables. Saute onions until translucent. Add water, milk, and rosemary to onions; bring to a boil. Whisk in cornmeal and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Combine cornmeal mixture, vegetable puree, cream, egg yolks, butter, salt, and cayenne in large bowl. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold into batter. Place in a greased 2-quart casserole dish and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until set.

If you are wondering about the texture of this, think of it like really moist and fluffy cornbread. Almost like pumpkin pie meets cornbread. Moist enough that you have to eat it with a spoon, hence the name spoon bread.

So, was it worth all the bother? Yes, but I'm going to file this one under holiday dishes because it was a lot of work for regular, everyday side dish. My plan is to take some of the squash we grow this summer and puree it with the carrots and then freeze that in batches so it is ready to go when I want to make this again. That would cut out a lot of the hassle, to not have to go through the roasting and pureeing and having the food processor taking up precious counter space. It was a long process, but Keith really enjoyed it, even if it doesn't make the cut for cholesterol-friendly food.

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