Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Cozy Casserole for a Chilly Evening

We may get snow!

I know this is not something to get excited about in most of the United States, but we so rarely get snow that I'm kinda hoping that some sticks and stays, at least for a few hours. It won't happen until Friday night or Saturday and might not happen at all, but it gives you some idea of the nice chilly (for No. CA) weather we are having.

Sweetie has the fire going to heat the house...well only the living room actually, the bedrooms and bathroom are frigid...and I baked a nice rice gratin for our dinner using winter squash I grew myself. How fun is that?

There is always something yummy cooking at Katie's blog. Last night when I stopped by to see what she was up to I saw that she had posted a wonderful dish with butternut squash, leeks and rice. It looked great and sounded even better. I was pretty sure I had most of the ingredients on hand so I made it for dinner tonight.

Probably doesn't sound that earthshattering, but I so often bookmark or save recipes from other blogs and so rarely actually make them. This one was a must-make! And here you thought I only get buzzed about baked sweets and bread.

I used the smaller of the two butternut squash left from the ones I grew in my garden this summer. The great thing about winter squash is that they keep so well. This one was still moist inside and sweet, too. The skin was thin and peeled off easily and there weren't very many seeds, so there was lots of usable squash. It's likely that I had more squash than the recipe called for but it turned out just fine!

I was missing leeks, so used a cup of chopped onion instead. Since thyme was a dominant herb in the recipe I couldn't resist adding a cup of chopped mushrooms...I love the way mushrooms and thyme just go so well together.

I already had left over cooked rice so that made the dish come together faster. A couple of strips of bacon from the freezer went in the pan first with a lid on to sweat some of the bacon fat out. That meant I didn't need to add much olive oil when it came time to saute' the onions, mushrooms and butternut squash. The only other change I made was that I added an egg at the end when I mixed in the yogurt and Parmesan cheese. It was meant to help the gratin hold together when served and that worked very well.

Do try this dish. The flavors go so well together, it is filling without being heavy, and it tastes wonderful! Next time I'm going to make it with brown rice and I bet it will be even better!

Butternut Squash, Mushroom and Rice Gratin
adapted from Thyme for Cooking by Katie

8oz (250gr) butternut squash
1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 large yellow onion)
1 cup roughly chopped mushrooms
1 1/2oz (45gr) bacon
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten

Peel the butternut squash and remove any seeds or stringiness. Cut butternut squash into small cubes. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Roughly chop bacon. Roughly chop the mushrooms.

Heat oil and paprika in a large skillet. Add bacon, squash, leeks and sauté until vegetables are tender bacon is done, about 10 minutes. Add chicken stock, thyme, rice, yogurt, Parmesan cheese and egg. Add salt and pepper as desired to taste.

To finish: Spoon into an oiled baking dish and bake, 400F (200C), for 15 minutes, until top starts to brown.

Serve hot (although I bet this tastes great cold, too).


  1. OOOH! I love it when I run across a recipe for which I have everything already! Okay, not the bacon, but I have a reasonable substitute. Yum.

  2. I love casseroles! Especially the bubbly hearty kind with a nice vegetable to stuff ratio!

  3. I too am excited about the thought of some real snow hitting Silicon Valley!

  4. Mushrooms! Great idea... I usually have them on hand, but didn't that day. We have such strange bacon here - it has visible fat but hardly renders any when cooked. I always have to fry it in oil. Unlike the stuff I used to get in the US which had so much excess...

  5. Casseroles are always fun to make and eat! This looks just superb for a snowy day or for my part of the world a wet, rainy day!!