Polenta with Butternut Squash and Gouda
One of my New Years Resolutions is to eat more vegetables, and more vegetable-based dishes. Why? Lots of reasons. Veggies are good for you. Eating veggies in place of meat is good for the planet, especially if you make a conscious effort to eat local, sustainable produce. (Hello, summer CSA!) And also, veggies are tasty! So, with that in mind, I set off for the first grocery trip of the year with a list full of veggie-friendly dishes.
First up was this creamy polenta and butternut squash dish. One of Food & Wine’s top 5 Vegetarian dishes of 2009! It was simple to make, although time consuming. It calls for refrigerating the dish for 3 hours prior to baking it, to allow the polenta to set. Frankly, I was too hungry to do that! So, at first the dish was a little… erm… ‘mushier’ than called for, but still tasty and definitely presentable! Suggested sides are mushrooms or tomato sauce. I went with a simple tomato and basil simmered sauce on top and it was the perfect complement. Squash and tomato? Who knew!
Polenta with Butternut Squash and Gouda (serves 6, from Food & Wine magazine, January 2010)
1 Butternut Squash—peeled, seeded, and chunked
2 Tbsp Olive Oil, plus more for the pan
1/3 cup Pine Nuts, aka Pignoles, coarsely chopped
1 Onion, chopped
1/2 tsp Dried Sage
6 cups Water
2 cups Coarse Polenta, or Corn Meal
Butter to spread on top
1 cup Smoked Gouda, shredded
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp Parmesan, grated
Roast the squash for 30 minutes in a glass dish at 375. (You could also steam it, or microwave it, until tender). Once it’s tender, mash it up. Toast the pine nuts by tossing them in a small pan over medium heat for 2-4 minutes, until fragrant.
Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the onion and sage until the onion is tender.
Boil the water in a large sauce pot and whisk in the polenta and a dash of salt. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 minutes. Stir in the onion and sage mixture, the pine nuts, the mashed squash, and the gouda and 1/4 cup parmesan. Pour into an oven-proof skillet (or cast iron) and flatten. Now you have a choice, you can refrigerate the whole thing until it firms up (about 2-3 hours) or you can bake it and eat it less firm. Either way, when you’re ready, bake at 375 for an hour, then let sit for 20 minutes before slicing to eat. Serve with sauteed mushrooms or tomato sauce.
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