Meat Free Monday

Debbie Thomas

I love how things work out in the Twitterverse! Last Thursday my friend Debbie tweeted about this dish she had just made and how scrumptious it tasted. She did this just as I was wondering what to do with some butternut squash for dinner. I would never have thought of combining pesto and butternut squash but Debbie assures me it is  a great combination.

So here is Debbie’s recipe adapted from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe, but I like to think of it as:

Debbie’s Special Squash Bake

2 TBLSP butter ( I used less)
1 (3lb) Butternut Squash, peeled seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup Basil Pesto ( I used store bought but she has recipe here I will
include)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (I used less)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8 inch baking dish. Fill large pot with 2 inches water and use steamer basket to steam squash until very tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to food processor and blend until smooth and creamy (I don’t have food processor so tried
blender but that didn’t work so I just mashed it up really well with a potato masher)

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon half of squash evenly into prepared dish. Dollop half the pesto all over squash and sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat layering with remaining squash, pesto and cheese. Using a skewer swirl pesto decoratively into squash (this is not necessary and with my store
bought pesto it really didn’t work but it didn’t hurt anything either:)

Dot top with bits of butter and bake until heated through and golden brown around the edges, about 40 minutes.

One thing is I would double all of this next time as it is a small layering in an 8 in dish.

Pesto

makes 1 cup

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, plus more to taste
about 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a blender pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until finely chopped. With blender still running, gradually add enough oil to form a smooth and thick consistency. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the cheese.
Season the pesto with more salt and pepper to taste.

(The pesto can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate)

Debbie says:

 My daughter had a friend over so I made them some pasta and the friend scooped some of this dish on top of the pasta with some extra grated cheese on top, no tomato sauce. It looked yummy and she really loved this dish, as did my daughter. I could have eaten the entire thing:) It is rich though so you want to be careful not to eat the whole thing!