Caramelized Casserole of Winter Squash

If you are anything like me, you love winter squash but hate to peel it. Here is my delicious (if not precisely unique or time-efficient) solution to this dilemma: Roasting. You still have to halve a squash the consistency of a golf ball but you don’t have to hack away at the brittle skin. After an hour in the oven, you can pull off the skin like a pair of socks.  It would definitely be faster to microwave the squash then skin it but then you would miss out on the delicious caramelized layer that formers on some of the surfaces.  I’ve adapted the Lee Brothers casserole recipe below by first roasting the squash and the resulting deliciousness is the perfect sunny-bright-orange solution for the blah, first chilly Monday of the year.

Caramelized Squash Casserole

Adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

3 and 1/2 lbs winter squash (I used butternut)

1 tbs or so olive oil

5 table spoons unsalted butter (I used lite butter)

2 large yellow onions, chopped (about 3 cups)

1 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs, beaten

2 and 1/2 tsp fresh thyme

non-stick spray

1/2 cup bread crumbs, toasted (I ground up the remainder of a pan of cornbread I made the other night)

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or pecans, toasted (I used pumpkin seeds)

2 cups (6 oz) coarsely grated cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.Cut the squash into halves then quarters and scoop out all the seeds and strings. Drizzle olive oil on the orange flesh. Roast for about 1 hour in a large (9 by 13 pan).

3. Once squash has cooled enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard it. Chop the flesh. Turn oven to 375 degrees. Spray pan in which you roasted the squash with non-stick spray.

4. Melt butter in stock pot and sautee onions on medium-low, stirring to prevent browning, for about 8 minutes. Turn off heat and add squash, buttermilk, egg, thyme, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds and 1 and 1/3 cup cheese. Blend with a spoon until well-combined.

5. Spread mixture in roasting pan and cook for 45 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with remaining cheese and pumpkin seeds. Cook 15 more minutes.

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