Butternut Squash & Kale Casserole
This butternut squash and kale casserole turns simple ingredients into nutritious comfort food that can be enjoyed either as a side dish or a stand-alone meal. A perfect warm and comforting dish for a cold fall or winter day or night!
Cooking With Squash
One of my favourite things about fall is cooking with squash. There’s something about it that wreaks of comfort food but it’s still highly nutritious and, depending on how it’s prepared, it doesn’t add to our expanding waistlines at this time of year either. That’s a major bonus during the season of turkey dinners and treats galore, and I will take it, thank you very much.
Of all the squash I’ve tried, I’m a sucker for good ol’ butternut. I love the taste and the rich texture of butternut squash and have found it to be the perfect candidate for soup while also faring well as a chopped veggie in pastas, stir fries, pot pies and, my personal favourite, as the star of this butternut squash and kale casserole.
I had some on hand the other day and figured it would make the perfect fall-inspired healthy dish to gobble up for lunch on Halloween before I took Evelyn out trick-or-treating for a bunch of candy and junk food that would never make it into our home on any other given day of the year. And my plan worked! Eve knew she could only go trick-or-treating if she ate all of her lunch first, and so she did, and without complaint, which means that this dish is kid-approved too. Well, except for the kale, in our case. See, Eve doesn’t like “leaves” in her food, so I pick out the large pieces so she’ll actually eat the squash. Pick your battles, amiright?
In either case, I was happy to see her down an entire bowl of squash before the subsequent Halloween tradition of kids ploughing themselves with junk food commenced. That’s about as good as it gets on Halloween so I was happy to let her have a few treats later on knowing that she had at least had a nutritious meal earlier in the day.
Butternut Squash with Real Parmesan
I adapted this recipe from the Oh She Glows cookbook. I had remembered trying a version of this recipe from the book a couple years ago and loving it, and I had some of the same ingredients on hand this time, so I decided to adapt the recipe to accommodate what I already had on hand as well as to accommodate my markedly non-vegan diet. No vegan “almond parmesan” here! No ma’am. Nothing but the real thing.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the vegan parmesan is actually quite tasty. But I have a hard time calling anything made from almonds and pumpkin seeds “parmesan.” I’d rather use the real thing.
But before we jump ahead to the cheese (always my favourite part), let’s start at the beginning. First thing’s first, start by prepping your squash.
How to Prepare Butternut Squash and Kale Casserole
To prepare the butternut squash, first cut the top and bottom ends off to remove the stem and blossom ends. Slice lengthwise down the middle until you’re left with two halves. Scoop out the “guts” like you would with a pumpkin and add them to your compost. Peel the hard outer skin off of each half. Then chop the squash into roughly one-inch cubes and add to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Once your squash is prepared, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Next, remove kale leaves from stems and roughly tear up the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Add the kale to the bowl with the cubed squash.
I also like to add walnuts to this dish to add another layer of texture and nutrition. Plus, I just so happened to have some whole walnuts from a neighbour’s tree sitting in a decorative bowl on our kitchen table along with pine cones and hazelnuts from our tree. (Because there’s nothing more useful than seasonal decor that you can eat too, and fall is prime time for such things!)
So I grabbed a few walnuts from the bowl and used my nutcracker to break them open and remove the pieces inside… Because it’s damn near impossible to get a whole walnut out of it’s shell and remove all the hard, inedible pieces without it breaking. It’s a tedious process, but very satisfying! However, if you don’t have a walnut tree (or a neighbour with one), you can save yourself the hassle and buy shelled walnuts from Costco or in bulk at your local grocery store.
Once you’ve measured out about ¾ cup of walnuts pieces, add them to your mixing bowl with the butternut squash and kale.
Finally, chop up a head of garlic (5-6 medium cloves) and add them to your mixing bowl.
Wait, did she just say a HEAD of garlic?! Oh yes she did!
Okay, if you’re not a huge garlic fan you can stick to adding just a couple cloves to your dish. But I personally cannot get enough garlic in my life, and I always find that recipes call for waaay less garlic than the average garlic-loving girl like me actually uses in her cooking. And I’ve never personally met anyone who doesn’t love garlic too. And for the record, no one has ever said any of my cooking was “too garlicky.” So I implore you to give it a go! Use a whole (medium-sized) head of garlic. Break it up into cloves, peel and roughly chop those cloves and add them to your mixing bowl.
Finally, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over everything and mix all of the ingredients together. Then spoon it all into a casserole dish and cover with an oven-safe lid or tinfoil.
Place the butternut squash and kale casserole into your preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Then take it out of the oven, remove the lid or foil and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Add about ¾ cup of parmesan and mix it all together once more. Finally, scoop a generous helping onto a plate and eat it as a side dish alongside a protein like roast chicken or beef, or enjoy it in a bowl all on its own or add farmer’s sausage to make it into a hearty meal.
What about you? What’s your favourite type of squash and do you have a preferred way to prepare it? Let me know down below:)
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