White bean and butternut bake (gluten free)

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M. and I are back on the west coast, after a relaxing week visiting family and old friends back in NC. We woke up on New Year’s Eve at 4AM, hopped a non-stop flight, and arrived home just before midday. Needless to say, we were completely knackered and did not stay up to ring in the New Year. But we did manage to polish off the last of this casserole (stored in the freezer after the November batch cook day) for our final meal of 2013.

M. and I both love cheesy baked casseroles and lasagnas, and this dish was devised as a healthier twist on that favorite theme. I blended ricotta with white beans to create a creamy filling, layered it with sauteed onion and slices of butternut squash, then topped with parmesan and put the whole concoction into the oven. I also used this recipe to experiment a bit with the sage + squash combination I seem to find popping up everywhere these days. I was initially dubious, but after having made this casserole a few times, I’m definitely realizing I should have gotten over those doubts earlier! It’s an unexpected but delightful taste pairing.

I made this casserole using our 12″ cast iron skillet as the baking vessel, but you can also use a 13 x 9″ covered baking dish as a substitute if you prefer.

White Bean and Butternut Bake (gluten free)
serves 8-10

Ingredients
1 butternut squash (~4 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2″ slices
2 c. cooked white beans
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 tsp salt
8-10 twists of freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4″ dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried sage leaves
4 oz. parmesan cheese, grated

Method
1. Place squash slices in a microwave safe dish with 2 tbsp water, cover, and microwave on high power for 6 minutes.

2. Combine white beans, ricotta, pepper, and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal s-blade, and process until smooth. Taste, and add more salt or pepper if needed.

3. In 12″ skillet, heat the olive oil. Saute onion for 12-15 minutes over medium heat, until beginning to brown and caramelize slightly. Add the garlic and sage and saute for 3-5 minutes more. Remove onions from pan and begin oven preheating to 400F

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4. Lightly oil the skillet or baking dish, then arrange a layer of squash on the bottom. Top with 1/3 of the bean and ricotta mixture, and 1/2 of the onions. Repeat this layering twice more, omitting the onion on the final layer. If there are any remaining squash slices, arrange them on top of the dish, then top with the grated parmesan.

5. Bake, covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until parmesan is beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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