November 23rd, 2010

Butternut Squash Bread Pudding with vegetable veloute

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Before I finish packing up our car with Thanksgiving goodies and go careening full tilt to my daughter and son-in-law’s for the holiday, I wanted to check in with you all, say hey, and share a recipe.

It had been on my mind for a while to experiment with the versatile butternut squash, mix it up with some leftover cubed bread I’ve been saving,
add leeks, sage, butter, eggs, and
voila!
turn it into a kind of savory bread pudding.

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I made this one up, with success, for our community potluck last Thursday.
And, while it emerged a bit denser in texture that I had envisioned, (more liquid and eggs, less bread for that!) it made a hearty and delicious vegetarian main dish casserole: one that you’d enjoy eating with a mixed green salad, or side of sauteed kale.

But I realized that this also would find favor—with vegetarians and turkey-eaters alike–on the holiday dinner table.

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The casserole imparts many of the aromas I associate with Thanksgiving: fresh sage, browned butter, earthy-sweet butternut, caramel notes from the onion family. Place a slice of roast turkey and gravy over a square of this bread pudding, and you’ve got one special serving of turkey and dressing! Equally delectable would be succulent pork roast and its rosemary and garlic enriched juices.

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And, for those of us who don’t partake of the noble bird (or beast!), I want to offer a vegetarian based “gravy”–a little something warm and saucy to pour over the bread pudding. Enter the Vegetable Veloute’: it’s a simple mirepoix cooked with vegetable stock, seasoned with fresh herbs, thickened with roux. Add some white wine to it, if you like, for added complexity. Everybody deserves dressing and gravy!

So, friends, that’s the word from this kitchen, for now. I just finished making garlic-sage butter for seasoning the turkey (a generous rub beneath the skin helps insure a juicy bird.) I’ve got a pumpkin and chocolate pie to get out of the oven. Then, back to packing— soon we’ll be DC bound!

To all of you, whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving or not, I wish you safe travels, cooperative ovens, and good times with friends and family at the table. May every day be an expression of gratitude.

See you next week!

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH BREAD PUDDING
6 cups diced, roasted Butternut Squash (2-3 butternuts, depending on size)
6 cups cubed Bread–from sturdy loaves, like baguettes, farmbreads, soudough
2-3 Leeks, washed, sliced, using white and some of the green
2T. Butter
6 large Eggs
2 cups Half-and Half
1 cup Milk
3 T. fresh Sage leaves
Salt and Black Pepper
1 c. shredded Pecorino Romano

Saute leeks in butter until soft, and toss with roasted squash pieces in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with half-and-half, milk, 2 T. chopped sage leaves, salt and pepper. Pour over squash and leeks.

Add cubed bread, and toss until everything is well-coated.

Spoon into a greased 9×13 casserole dish and top with shredded romano.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes—until puffed but firm, and nicely browned.

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VEGETABLE VELOUTE
2 T. Butter
1 medium Onion,small dice
2-3 Carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks Celery, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 T. all purpose Flour
3 Cups Vegetable Stock
2 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf Parsley
salt, black pepper, white pepper

Melt butter on medium heat in a 2 qt. saucepan. Saute vegetables togerher unto softened, slightly browned. Stir in flour and cook it into the vegetable-butter mix. When no traces of white from the flour remain, add the stock, while stirring. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Add parsley, or other fresh herbs (thyme, or sage would be nice) and taste for seasoning. Add salt, black pepper, pinch of white pepper. The sauce will get a a glazy look when the flour is cooked into it, and thickens.

Serve on the side, like a gravy.

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Posted in Casseroles, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes | 21 Comments »