Baked Butternut Squash and Cheese Polenta
A great vegetarian main dish for special occasions. Delicious served alone or with sautéed mushrooms, braised greens or a simple tomato sauce. You can either make this as below, it will make a delicious polenta ‘pie’, or you can actually layer the polenta, then squash, then cheese a few times (always end with cheese), let it firm up and then bake to reheat for a polenta ‘lasagna’. Top the whole she-bang with a pile of wilted greens or light tomato sauce and you’re in business!
- One 2-pound butternut squash—peeled, seeded and sliced 1 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups coarse polenta
- Unsalted butter
- 4 ounces smoked Gouda, shredded (1 cup)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Arrange the squash on a large oiled baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until tender.
- Transfer the squash to a bowl and mash coarsely. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups).
- Spread the pine nuts on a pie plate and toast in the oven for 4 minutes, until golden. Coarsely chop the nuts.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and sage and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, 25 minutes; add a few tablespoons of water if the onion looks dry.
- In a saucepan, bring the 6 cups of water to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook over very low heat, stirring frequently, until tender, about 35 minutes.
- Stir in 1 tablespoon of butter along with the mashed squash, pine nuts, onion, Gouda and half of the grated Parmigiano cheese.
- Pour the hot polenta into a buttered large cast-iron skillet. Flatten the top of the polenta slightly without spreading it to the edges; refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
- Rub the surface of the polenta with softened butter and sprinkle with the remaining grated Parmigiano cheese. Bake in a 375° oven for 1 hour, until the top and side are lightly browned and crisp. Let stand for 20 minutes before cutting it into wedges.
Looking for a little bit lighter squash dish to go with your holiday meal? Try our Roasted Squash and Potato Salad with Pomegranate Seeds recipe.