Thursday, October 6

Butternut Squash & Parmesan Orzo Bake

Anyone feel like they need a little Vitamin A in their lives?
1 C. cubed squash contains 457% of your daily value.
Not sure what you do with the other 357%...
Why is it that if you call a dish a casserole, it makes people shy away from it? You can call it a "bake" or a "cassoulet" or a "gratin" and everyone wants a bite. But casserole? Casserole brings to mind canned green beans covered in cream of mushroom soup and topped with French's fried onions which, being my least favorite dish from childhood Thanksgivings, makes me shudder. And then tuna noodle casserole anyone?  Blech. 

Casserole seems to evoke feelings of food thrown together quickly and dispassionately. Maybe it's because we feel like a casserole reminds us of a time when cooking or being in the kitchen wasn't a personal choice; it was a gender role (too deep?).

In our minds, casseroles are akin to Jello molds. They're outdated and we've moved on. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a Jello mold? (It's your lucky day, because I've found a free BRAIN shaped Jello mold HERE. Did I mention it was free? And makes BRAIN SHAPED JELLO!? Add a little vodka and imagine the party possibilities..). Casseroles are like french onion dip or deviled eggs. We've evolved (it's the opposite of eat or be eaten!) and cooking has become a hobby for those who choose it, rather than a chore.

Maybe this is why we are afraid of the word casserole. Or maybe we just have all had one too many green bean casserole (I'm probably projecting with that thought). But either way, I'll call this dish a bake. And you'll want to eat it. Deviled eggs on the other hand, dress that up any way you like, I still won't touch it (mayo, ew!).

Speaking of food evolution, if you're really interested in foods we have all left behind over the years (and I mean really left behind, not just renamed) this website is particularly interesting. The timeline begins pre-17,000 BC and just keeps going, listing when many foods we know and still enjoy were created (or discovered). I can't, of course, attest to it's accuracy, (how do they know this stuff!?) but it's certainly interesting! The casserole was invented in 1708!

Soundtrack: I would say I don't know whether to love this or hate it, but I definitely love it. Listen and you'll know exactly what I mean by that. Mishka Presents Das Racist - Shut Up, Dude Mixtape by dasracist

Butternut Squash & Parmesan Orzo Bake
Serves 3-4

1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
6-10 garlic cloves, whole
2 tbsp honey
1 c orzo
1 med red onion, chopped
6 oz baby spinach
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
10 sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/2 c grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss squash and garlic cloves with honey and season with salt & pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet, with the garlic interspersed throughout the pieces of squash. Bake for 20-25 minutes until squash begin to soften.

Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

When squash is finished, stir around on baking sheet to evenly distribute flavor. Remove the 3 largest cloves of garlic from the pan and chop. Remove and discard the remaining garlic (or save for another use!). Set the baking sheet and squash aside.

In a medium saute pan, heat a drizzle of EVOO over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and onion. Saute until onion begins to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and stir. Add spinach in handfuls and continue cooking until spinach is cooked down, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine orzo, squash, sauteed spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes and 1/3 c of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Transfer to greased casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes (oven still at 350).


One thing that I love about BNut squash, is that it loves you back!
Oooh, HONEY!
Yea, looks good.
I don't like to abreve these as SDT's. Reminds me of something else...

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