Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Squash Casserole from Paleo Comfort Foods

This Squash Casserole recipe is from Paleo Comfort Foods.  They have not reprinted it online themselves, so I wont, but if you search the internet you may or may not be able to find where someone else has posted it.  Not that I would suggest circumventing buying such a great collection of recipes!  My general rule for this blog will be that if the recipe's author has posted the recipe online, I'll link to it.  If its just in the book, I'll reference the book.  Perhaps I will explore asking some of these fine folks for permission, not that I think I need it, but I think it's polite.

What intrigued me most about this recipe is that they say that it freezes well.  It would be so nice to have a reliable vegetable dish that I could make ahead and freeze.  I worried the most about this recipe being mushy and bland.   Let's cook it up and see!


After gathering my ingredients, I sliced the squash and the onions.  I put them into a sauce pot with water and I put the lid on.  The instructions on the recipe do not give a estimated time for how long boil the vegetables.  It says until "the vegetables" are soft and translucent.  I really dislike recipes that ask for you to determine when something is translucent.  Yes, I understand the meaning of the word, but I just have a hard time saying, "ah, yes, the veggies are now translucent."  Then I wondered if they only meant translucent to describe the onions as translucent squash would be very strange.  Since I didn't have a estimated time, I had to keep checking the pot.  Setting my timer for 5 minutes, and another 5 minutes and so on.

While the veggies were boiling, I prepped the other ingredients for the casserole.  I measured my pecans and chopped them.  I also measured out my coconut milk and almond flour.  I must say how much I enjoy having these 8 ounce tetra paks of coconut milk.  Most cans of coconut milk have 20+ ounces in them and most recipes will leave a good portion of that unused.  With the 8 ounce paks most, if not all, is used.

After 28 minutes, I decided the veggies were soft and translucent.  I strained them, returned them to the pan and added the remaining ingredients.

Public service announcement:  Make sure to mind your arms when draining your squash, or really anything, from a hot pot.  I managed to burn myself again.  I fully admit that I am a klutz and should plant some aloe in the back yard.

After stirring the pot until all of the ingredients were well incorporated, I carefully poured the mixture into my casserole dish and sprinkled my chopped pecans on top.  Oh, if I could sell smells.  Even before putting the casserole in the oven, the pecans smelled so good on top of the hot squash and onion mixture.  

The casserole before baking.
I put the casserole dish in the pre-heated oven uncovered for 20 minutes and the dish looked like this.  The instructions said to bake until the mixture is "very bubbly and somewhat thickened and pecans are golden brown."
Squash at 20 minutes
It was certainly bubbly and maybe thickened but I wouldn't say the pecans were golden brown, so I put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.  I'm being cautious with the time as I don't want overcooked soggy squash.  
Squash at 25 minutes.
I spooned some into a bowl and sat down to taste it while hot. 
Looks tasty!
After tasting the recipe hot from the oven, I let it cool and portioned about 1/2 the casserole in two freezer bags to test whether or not this recipe freezes well and put the rest in the fridge.  

Will it freeze well?

Cost and Accessibility of Ingredients: You should be able to find all of the ingredients in this recipe easily at your big box grocery store.  I was talking to my 85 year old Mamaw the other day and one of her favorite topics is how expensive squash is at the grocery store.  She refuses to buy it if its over $1/pound.  Sadly, I don't know if she'll be buying any squash soon.  I didn't check my receipt, but I sure it was under $2/ pound, which is fine by me.

Prep and Cook Time: It took me just over 1 hour to make this casserole.  Only 10 minutes of that was veggie prep time.  Could it have taken less time?  Maybe.  The recipe leaves much up to the individual cook and can be tinkered with time wise quite a bit depending on how you interpret soft, translucent, bubbly, thickened, and golden brown.

Clean up: Other than my knife and the sauce pot, everything went in the dishwasher which was only half way full.  Yay!

The Paleo Review-Right out of the Oven:  Thumbs up!  Again, another weekend dish due to the cooking time or a weeknight dish if I don't intend upon eating any of it the evening I make it. The coconut milk adds a little sweetness without having a coconut taste.  The pecans make this dish.  I am often one to omit nuts in recipes as I'm still wanting to lean out, but that would be a mistake with this dish.  The pecans in addition to adding good flavor, add a nice crunch.  I will definitely make this dish again to eat fresh out of the oven.

The Paleo Review- After Freezing: Meh.  After being in the freezer for over 24 hours, I took out one of the freezer bags of squash and hit the casserole reheat button on my microwave.
Soggy reheated casserole.

My first impression was that it was quite soggy.  To be fair, for my original fresh out of the oven portion, I spooned out of the casserole dish and may have left some juice behind.  Despite the extra liquid, it still had good flavor.  It was a little softer than when it was first out of the oven.  I don't know that I'll make this in the regular rotation of my frozen meals/veggies, but if I make it in the future, I certainly won't shy away from freezing some of it to keep it from going bad.