Polenta isn’t typically the first dish I think of for Thanksgiving dinner, but after tasting this baked polenta with the roasted butternut squash and smoked Gouda, I’ve changed my mind. This dish would make a delicious substitute for traditional stuffing and has a lovely rustic appearance. The combination of the roasted squash, smoked Gouda, and Grana Padano cheese with the herbs makes for a beautiful dish for special meals.
I found the original recipe in Food & Wine and made several changes. I roast the squash halved with the skin on instead of peeling and slicing it before roasting because it’s easier. I used Grana Padano instead of Parmigiano cheese because it’s a little less expensive and has a nutty flavor that I really like. I also added extra sage and made a light vegetable broth to add more depth of flavor rather than plain water. And I used leeks instead of onions in the polenta.
The recipe requires several hours to make, including resting time in the refrigerator before baking, but some of the steps can be done a day ahead, such as roasting the squash and making the vegetable broth. If you want to make this for Thanksgiving, I recommend making it first thing in the morning to allow for the 3 hours rest time in the refrigerator. Yes, it takes time, but Michael and I both agreed that it’s so worth it. And if there are any leftovers, a warm wedge of this polenta makes a delicious breakfast, too.
Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours, and may you enjoy this special time with family and friends.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH POLENTA WITH SMOKED GOUDA AND SAUTEED MUSHROOMS
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine.
Serves 8 to 10.
baking sheet, lined with foil and lightly coated with sunflower oil
12-inch cast iron skillet, well buttered
1 (2-pound) butternut squash, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large leek, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
5 large leaves fresh sage, minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups water
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/4 medium onion
2 cups coarse polenta
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted and chopped
4 ounces smoked Gouda, shredded (1 cup)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Grana Padano cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces baby bella or white mushrooms, sliced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup white wine (chardonnay)
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F/200° C.
2. Remove the stem, cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash cut side down on the prepared baking sheet and roast until fork tender, about 45 minutes. Scoop the cooked squash into a bowl and mash coarsely. You should have about 1-1/2 cups.
3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Add the leeks and sage and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat until golden, about 25 minutes.
4. In the saucepan, combine the water with the carrot, celery, and onion and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Strain out the vegetables. Whisk the polenta and kosher salt into the broth. Cook over very low heat, stirring frequently, until tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of butter along with the mashed squash, pine nuts, leeks, Gouda, and half of the grated Grana Padano cheese.
5. Pour the hot polenta into the buttered cast-iron skillet and flatten the top of the polenta slightly without spreading it to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
6. Preheat the oven to 375° F/190° C. Rub the surface of the polenta with 1 tablespoon of softened butter and sprinkle with the remaining grated Grana Padano cheese. Bake in the preheated oven until the top and side are lightly browned and crisp, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Cut into wedges.
7. While the polenta cools, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat until they begin to soften. Season with sea salt and pepper and continue to stir. Add the wine and continue cooking until the wine cooks down and the mushrooms are fork tender. Serve spooned over the polenta wedges.
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[An original post from Andrea Meyers: making life delicious. All images and text copyrighted, All Rights Reserved.]
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