Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Casserole

Autumn, Main Courses, Meatless, Sides / Monday, October 19th, 2009


People have asked how I get Jeff to go meatless on Mondays.

The truth is, I don’t.

I look for recipes that can work for both of us, like pastas and pizzas, omelets and stir-frys, panini and quesadillas. The latest addition is this Butternut Squash Casserole. My meatless half is warm butternut squash boiled with a few handfuls of fresh spinach and baked with buttery onions, buttermilk, eggs, bread crumbs, cheddar, thyme and toasted pumpkin seeds. Filling, but not heavy.

For Jeff’s half, I skip the spinach and seeds and add a layer of hot Italian sausage.

One tip: If you’re making a meal you know your dining partner loves, like pasta, you can supplement their plate with a healthy meat. HOWEVER, if you’re introducing something fairly new to them, like butternut squash, you might want to sweeten the deal with a little meat candy (aka sausage and bacon).

Bacon beats nagging any day.


Butternut Squash Casserole

Adapted from Matt and Ted Lee’s “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook”

Serves 8 to 10 people

  • 3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 6 cups)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, trimmed, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup whole or low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, toasted
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or pecans, toasted
  • 2 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • Optional: 4 to 6 large handfuls of fresh spinach, washed and stemmed (add to the same water as the squash in step 2 during the last minute of boiling)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking dish or  4-quart casserole.
  2. Place 3 quarts water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the squash to the water, return to a boil, and cook for 6 minutes. The squash will turn a deeper orange. Drain it and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in the stockpot and add the oil. Add the onions and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent and limp, about 8 minutes, stirring to prevent browning. Add the warm squash and the buttermilk, eggs, thyme, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds and 1 1/3 cups cheese. Blend with a wooden spoon or spatula until the ingredients are well combined.
  4. Spread the mixture evenly in the baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds and 2/3 cup cheese. Bake 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Not-So-Meatless Sausage Squash Casserole Variation: Follow the recipe above (minus the spinach), but use 2 1/2 pounds squash and 1 pound hot Italian sausage, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch-thick pieces and seared in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until golden brown. Add the sausage to the squash mixture in step 3 and complete the recipe as above.

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29 thoughts on “Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Casserole

  1. I am a huge fan of the Lee Bros. Cookbook. I think this will be the next recipe I try out of it, but I may have to add the sausages. Looks great!

  2. Hi Rebecca, This looks amazing! I try for mostly meatless Mondays, but last night did a bit of crumbled bacon over whole-wheat linguine with roasted turnips and acorn squash. Technically, of course, that's cheating, but I try to alternate so that one week there is no meat at all (for my former Black Angus-raising husband, this is quite a feat) and then go low-meat the next. Thanks for sharing this recipe – it's going into the meat-free rotation (then maybe the second time, I'll do the sausage version – mixing it up, over here!).

  3. This looks great, I try to eat vegetarian most of the week (but the boyfriend will only do it once a week if I am lucky), but I know he would eat this. It looks so delicious and perfect for Fall! I love that you used buttermilk in the base, it adds such a great flavor too.

  4. this looks and sounds AMAZING! Yum… We do Meatless mondays too. It was a challenge getting my husband to go along, but he does. (albeit somewhat reluctantly, from time to time.)

  5. I've never heard of bacon referred to as "meat candy", but that is certainly a befitting description. I bought a huge container of butternut squash from Costco and am trying to think of something new and exciting to make.

    I think this qualifies as new and exciting.

  6. Ok, so this is soo spooky. I too made a butternut squash soup the other night.. with a clear broth, loaded with veggies and garlic. Hubs loved it. Way weird my dear. But hey, great minds think alike.

    Oh, hey, I found a recipe for cider doughnuts.. I was wondering if you had one so that I could read it (and since you test all your recipes, I know it'll be good)


  7. […] Butternut Squash Casserole by Ezra Pound Cake – Part of the Meatless Mondays, this casserole looks really enticing. I am not sure if it would pass over the staff or my wife in the place of meat… maybe as a side dish though. […]

  8. I know i am late the party, but I have made this twice so far this week (half batch–should have just made a whole one to begin with). We've been using andouille chicken sausage in ours. OMG, so good!

  9. Thank you so much for including a pumpkin seeds. They are a great ingredient for those with nut allergies but like a bit of crunch in some foods.
    I concur with Ashley, meat candy is an excellent expression for sausage and bacon.

  10. do you think it would travel well? we have a holiday party that will take us about an hour to get to. i have a insulated carrying case for my casserole dish that i could put it in…

  11. do you think it would travel well? we have a holiday party that will take us about an hour to get to. i have a insulated carrying case for my casserole dish that i could put it in…

  12. We love this and have made it a few times since going vegetarian.
    Thanks for the great recipe!

  13. […] the one real thing I made — my very favorite fall meal — more than makes up for it: butternut squash casserole with hot Italian sausage and spinach. Of course, the weather hasn’t been cooperating with my […]

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