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Butternut Squash and Spinach Gratin

This amazing side is based on an original recipe on epicurious and is a fantastic pair for cold weather comfort food!

3 (10-ounce) packages frozen leaf spinach, thawed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves minced or crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon freshly nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
2 large butternut squash - peeled, quartered, and seeded
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Squeeze thawed frozen spinach in small handfuls to remove excess moisture, then coarsely chop and transfer to a bowl.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in an 8-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, then cook onion and garlic for 3-5 min stirring periodically. Add onion mixture to spinach along with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cream and stir to combine.

Cut squash to separate bulb section the straight neck section, then cut pieces in long strips into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Take good care as butternut squash is awkward and easy to cut yourself.

Layer squash and spinach mixture in baking dish 13 x 9, using about 1/5 of squash and 1/4 of spinach for each layer, beginning and ending with squash. Sprinkle top layer of squash evenly with cheese and add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, then cover directly with wax paper. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until squash is tender and filling is bubbling. Uncover and bake gratin another 10-15 min until browned slightly.


Oven Roasted Cumin Carrots

This recipe is adapted from this recipe in bon appetit. We really liked the flavor and texture; you can also play with the time to keep the carrots slightly crunchy for those who don't like well-done cooked carrots.

10 Carrots, washed, peeled, and cut on an angle into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tsp cumin seeds
2 Tsp coarse kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray rimmed cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan with non-stick canola spray. Combine carrots, cumin seeds, salt in large bowl and add oil; toss to coat. Spread mixture on baking sheet and make sure there is separation between the carrots. Roast carrots until tender and lightly caramelized, turning carrots over once, 40 to 50 minutes.

Coating the Cut Carrots with Cumin, Salt and Olive Oil

Coating the Cut Carrots with Cumin, Salt and Olive Oil


Italian Squash and Sausage Tart

1 1/2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls

2 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 1/2 lbs of yellow squash and/or zucchini

1 medium onion

1 garlic clove, pressed

1 Tbsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil

2 tsp chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

2 large eggs

1/4 cup lowfat milk

2 cups shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

2 links of chicken sausage

Unroll crescent rolls; press dough on bottom and up sides of a 10-inch tart pan, pressing to seal perforations.  Bake at 375 for 6 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove from oven and gently press down dough with wooden spoon.  Spread crust with mustard and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add squash, onion and garlic; saute 7 minutes or until tender.  Remove from heat; stir in next 5 ingredients (basil through salt and pepper).

Sear sausage for 3-4 minutes and then chop and add to the vegetable mixture.  Whisk together eggs and milk in a large bowl; stir in cheese and vegetable mixture.  Pour over crust.  Bake at 375 for 20 04 25 minutes.  Test by inserting a knife into the center, the tart is ready if the knife comes out clean.

Note: A thin layer of Dijon mustard on the crust seals it and prevents the pie from becoming soggy.  You cannot taste the mustard but can add more to taste if desired.  Chicken sausage can be subbed for regular sausage or soy based sausage for a vegetarian option.

Here is a Video showing 'before' and 'after' the oven


Twice Baked Butternut Squash

4 Butternut Squash
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
5 tablespoons light sour cream
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
4 chives, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs or panko

Heat oven to 450 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven.  Halve the butternut squash lengthwise (do not cut off the ends) and remove the seeds.

Sprinkle halves with salt and pepper.  Fill roasting pan with 1/4 inch of water.  Place squash in the pan and cover with foil.  Bake until tender, about 35-45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer squash to a cool surface.  Use a spoon to scoop squash out of the skin and into a mixing bowl.  Be careful not to tear the skin.  Reduce oven heat to 425 degrees.  Add sour cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, chives and salt/pepper.  Mix until smooth.  Refill the squash with the mixture and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Bake uncovered until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

This recipe can be scaled down and most ingredients can be added to taste.

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