I certainly hope everyone had as great a holiday dinner as I did! As always, I spent the day at the home of good friends. I try to get there a little early to help. And I always take this squash casserole. The original recipe came from the New York Times magazine in 1999, and I love it.
The topping has black walnuts and bacon. Black walnuts may be a bit hard to find, but it's worth looking for, since the flavor is very different from English walnuts. I found them this year at Schnucks; Kroger does not carry them. I bought several packages for the freezer as well, since I think they are the only nuts to use in my Aunt Mary Lee's blackberry jam cake.
I've made this a time or two for non-meat eaters, and used melted butter in the topping rather than the bacon and bacon fat. It is equally tasty.
You can assemble it ahead of time and refrigerate the casserole and the topping mixture separately, then sprinkle on the topping and bake when you're ready for it.
Give it a try!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH BLACK WALNUT CRISP
2 small butternut squash, about 2# each (or one large one)
1 red onion; peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cups fontina, grated
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black epper
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
6 slices bacon, a good smoked kind, diced
1 cup black walnuts, chopped
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375.
Peel the squash (a vegetable peeler works best) and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and scrape out the fibrous part. Cut into 1/2" dice. In a large bowl, toss the squashes, onion, cream, cheese, salt, pepper and half the parsley. Scrape into a gratin dish or baking dish. Set aside.
In a skillet set over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring, until browned and crisp. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted. Add the breadcrumbs and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining parsley. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the casserole. Bake until the squash is very tender and the topping is browned, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Serves 8.