Oh butternut squash, you of hourglass figure, what a hold you have over me!
I see you at the market and sometimes I can see no one else. Sure, there are lots of refrigerated vegetables with their own particular charms, but sometimes I want something that can sit and wait for my vegetable whim to take hold. Tomatoes and avocados don’t need refrigeration but are too temperamental — blink and you may miss that brief window of optimal eating.
Potatoes and onions are great for hanging around but I eat a lot of those, and I can’t help the feeling that the former is a place holding starch and the latter is primarily a flavoring agent.
Not butternut squash. It’s a starch that feels like a veggie (or is it the other way around?) and the addition of it to a dish — be it a soup, a stir-fry, a casserole, a stew — brings a gorgeous pop of bright pumpkin-hued color to it. Even the most monochromatic entree looks infinitely more appetizing when butternut squash augmented.
I was thinking about that recently when I wanted to make a frittata the other day for my seniors; I love that this dish is full of protein and at room temperature it can sit out safely for a few hours. I checked my pantry and my butternut was at the ready, so I got to work.
So I cut it up, roasted it in the oven for about 25 minutes in a 350 oven until tender. While the squash cooked away, I pulled together the rest of my ingredients: leeks, eggs, goat cheese, garlic, a bit of cream.
Gosh it smelled delicious as it baked.
I pulled it out when it was set, and added some chopped rosemary and finely grated Parmesan on top while still warm. Isn’t it wonderful how the grated cheese surrenders to the warm frittata?
Once cool, I wrapped it up in parchment and took off for my route. Everyone but one of my clients on my route wanted to try it (the guy who hates vegetables refrained from taking a piece) and I even had enough that I was able to palm off a couple pieces to my kids’ teachers. (I heard back the next day that it was a huge hit.)
Later that afternoon, I found a few minutes to enjoy a slice on my own. It was lovely — just a touch cheesy but that richness fades into the background as you become aware of all the rounded flavors teased out by roasting and sauteeing: squash, garlic, leeks. At the last minute I added a couple sunflower seeds to it and that added an extra level of crunchy satisfaction.
Next time I will add a couple strips of cooked and crumbled bacon to the fritatta just before serving. Should leftovers from that remain, I can’t imagine a more satisfying lunch than a thick wedge of this, snuggled up in an aioli-blanketed warm baguette.
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1' inch cubes (you should have about 3 C.)
- drizzle of olive oil (about 1-2 Tbs.)
- 1 leek, cut lengthwise, then into half moons, rinsed
- 3 Tbs. butter
- 12 eggs
- ¼ C. milk, half and half or cream
- nonstick spray
- 2 oz. goat cheese
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary or oregano (optional)
- Parmesan and/or sunflowers seeds (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Lay cubed squash in single layer on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and then cook about 25 minutes until just beginning to soften.
- While squash is cooking, melt butter in small pan. Add leeks and saute over medium heat until just starting to turn golden (turn down heat if butter looks to be browning). Set aside.
- Crack and whisk eggs. Add cream, sauteed leeks, squash and a couple pinches of salt and pepper.
- Spray interior of 9 by 11 pan with nonstick spray. Pour egg mixture inside. Top with goat cheese and bake until eggs are set and cheese atop is starting to look creamy (about 25 minutes).
- Top with fresh herbs and further adorn with Parmesan and sunflowers seeds.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers, while unlikely, will hold for 2-3 days in the fridge.