Butternut Squash Bread Soup (Panade de Butternut)

This dish could have fed an army. It was GIGANTIC.  I would describe it as French onion soup meets oozy casserole. Full-flavored, cheese-covered comfort food. The thinly sliced butternut squash and fresh herbs layered into the bread, caramelized onions, and cheese added a little bit of excitement as well as color and nutrition. 😉

This recipe was adapted from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. Lebovitz stated that this is one of those dishes that improves as it sits… thank goodness! We had lots of leftovers. 🙂 I added additional homemade stock to the leftovers, before reheating, just to make it a little bit soupier.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 4 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled (4 thinly sliced & 4 whole)
  • 2 T mixed fresh thyme and sage
  • 2-pound (900 g) loaf firm-textured sourdough bread, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 quarts (2 l) warm chicken or turkey stock, plus additional stock for serving, as desired
  • 2-pound butternut squash or other winter squash such as Kabocha, peeled, seeded and sliced into 1/8-inch slices
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups grated Comte, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, or Fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz /45 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)

  1. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. (I used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Add the onions, 4 cloves of sliced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the herbs. Cook for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are completely wilted and beginning to brown on the bottom and edges.
  3. While the onions are cooking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Put the slices of bread on baking sheets in a single layer and toast in the oven, turning the slices over midway, until both sides are dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  5. When cool enough to handle, rub both sides of the bread with the whole garlic cloves.
  6. Slice the peeled and seeded squash into 1/8-inch slices. (I used a mandoline.)
  7. When the onions are done, pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen up any of the flavorful brown bits. Cook for a minute or two, until the wine is absorbed.
  8. Add 2 cups of the stock to the onions and cook until the stock is mostly absorbed 10 to 15 minutes, and then add the rest of the stock and heat until the stock is hot. Remove from heat.
  9. To assemble the Panade, cover the bottom of a 3 to 4 quart (3-4 l), 3+inch (8 cm) deep, baking dish with a layer of bread, breaking any pieces so they fit in a single layer, but keeping them as large as possible.
  10. Ladle about half of the onions and some of the stock over the bread, and then cover with half of the squash slices. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and half of the remaining herbs.
  11. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup (40 g) of the Comte.
  12. Add a second layer of bread and ladle the rest of the onions and more stock over the bread. Cover with remaining squash slices. Season the squash with salt, pepper, and the remaining herbs.
  13. Sprinkle another 1/2 cup (40 g) of Comte over the squash layer.
  14. Cover the squash with a final layer of bread and then ladle the rest of the stock over the bread.
  15. Press down on the ingredients to encourage them to meld together.
  16. Top with remaining 1 cup (90 g) Comte, and the Parmesan.
  17. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and tighten it around the edges. Don’t press it down on the surface or some cheese may stick to the foil during baking.
  18. Set the baking dish on a parchment paper or foil-lined rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills.
  19. Bake for 45 minutes, uncover the Panade, and bake for another 30 minutes, or until it is very well browned and crisp on top.
  20. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving. Spoon portions into shallow soup bowls, making sure each serving is topped with crusty topping.

I’m bringing my dinner-party ready comfort food to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #164 this week, hosted by Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. Enjoy!

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Cheesy Pasta Casserole with Wild Mushrooms

This is high-class macaroni and cheese. 😉 Fancy comfort food. A delicious vegetarian main course. What’s not to love? My favorite pasta shape- orecchiette- with earthy mushrooms, salty Parmigiano Reggiano, and fabulous melted fontina cheese. Prior to incorporating the mushrooms with the pasta, they are roasted with rosemary which infuses them with amazing flavor. Delicious.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used two cloves of garlic and a combination of cremini and shiitake mushrooms. I also decreased the baking temperature to 475 degrees (because I was worried about damaging my special casserole dish). No worries- it was still brown and bubbly. 🙂

Now that spring has sprung, I thought that I may have missed my chance to post this cozy dish, but it may snow here tonight! So I suppose I’m safe. :/

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 pound mixed wild or cultivated mushrooms, such as oyster, maitake and shiitake (I used 12 oz cremini mushrooms and 4 oz shiitake mushrooms.)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus a few grinds
  • 2 fresh rosemary branches
  • ½ pound orecchiette, farfalle or other short pasta
  • ž cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta
  • 5 ounces fontina cheese, grated (1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated (I used a garlic press.)
  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Trim the mushrooms and cut into 1-inch pieces. Toss with the olive oil, the salt, a few grinds of pepper and the rosemary. Spread on a large baking sheet and roast, tossing once or twice, until golden brown and crisped around the edges, 15 to 18 minutes. Discard rosemary.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for at least a few minutes less than the package directs. (You want the pasta very al dente; it will finish softening in the sauce.) Drain well.
  4. Turn oven up to 475 degrees.
  5. In a large bowl, stir together the cream, ricotta, fontina, Parmesan, sage, pepper, garlic and a pinch of salt
  6. Stir in the pasta and mushrooms.
  7. Arrange in a shallow 2-quart gratin dish or 9- by 13-inch pan.
  8. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly and browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.

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Whole-Grain Stuffing with Spinach, Mushrooms, & Fontina

My son was begging me to make the stuffing muffins that I served last Thanksgiving. I had to break his heart to try this recipe because it could also double as a vegetarian main dish. I also loved that it incorporated farro- a new love of mine. Mushrooms, greens, and cheese… What’s not to like? It had a really special and earthy taste.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Kay Chun. I substituted one pound of organic baby spinach for the mustard greens, increased the amount of garlic, and used Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro. I started prepping the ingredients two days before Thanksgiving (steps 2-5, as well as grating the cheese), and assembled and baked the complete dish on the big day.

Yield: Serves 12

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 1 cup farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro)
  • 1 pound whole-wheat bread, crusts removed, bread cut into 1-inch dice (8 cups)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 leeks, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound mustard greens, stemmed and coarsely chopped (12 packed cups) or organic baby spinach (left intact)
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, low-sodium chicken broth, vegetable or mushroom stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded Italian Fontina cheese (6 ounces), separated
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter a 4-quart baking dish.
  2. In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the farro until al dente, about 20 minutes. (I cooked my par cooked farro according to the package directions.) Drain well; transfer to a very large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, spread the bread on a large baking sheet and toast until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl. (I did this ahead of time and stored the toasted bread in a ziplock bag.)
  4. In a large nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the leeks and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the greens in batches and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables to the bowl.
  5. In the same skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add half of the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of oil and mushrooms.
  6. Add the stock, lemon juice, eggs, scallions and 1 cup of the cheese to the bowl and mix well.
  7. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Scatter the remaining cheese on top and bake uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes longer, until golden.

Note: The assembled stuffing can be covered and refrigerated overnight.

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Rigatoni & Cauliflower Al Forno

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I love it when my husband puts the New York Times Dining section at my “spot” at the kitchen table and says, “Why don’t we have this for dinner?”!!  Sometimes life is so much easier when someone hands you a plan! If you didn’t already guess, that is the story of this meal. 🙂 This dish was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I increased the amount of garlic and cauliflower, and used panko instead of coarse breadcrumbs. Cheesy and tasty.

  • 1 pound rigatoni or other large pasta shape
  • 1 large cauliflower
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon capers, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • Âź teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped sage, plus a few (3) sage leaves left whole
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 6 ounces coarsely grated fontina or mozzarella
  • 2 ounces finely grated Romano cheese or other hard pecorino
  • ½ cup panko or coarse dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  1. Cook the rigatoni in well-salted water according to package directions, but drain while still quite al dente. (If directions call for 12 minutes cooking, cook for 10 instead.) Rinse pasta with cool water, then drain again and set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut cauliflower in half from top to bottom. Cut out tough core and stem any extraneous leaves. Lay cauliflower flat side down and cut crosswise into rough 1/4-inch slices. Break into smaller pieces.
  3. Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over high heat. Add cauliflower slices, along with any crumbly pieces, in one layer. (Work in batches if necessary.) Let cauliflower brown and caramelize for about 2 minutes, then turn pieces over to brown the other side. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork. It’s fine if some pieces don’t brown evenly.
  4. Season browned cauliflower generously with salt and pepper. Add capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped sage, sage leaves and lemon zest and stir to coat.
  5. Put cooked cauliflower mixture in a large mixing bowl. (I used my cooled pasta pot to create fewer dishes!) Add cooked rigatoni and fontina and toss. Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled baking dish. Top with Romano cheese, then with panko or bread crumbs, and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. (Dish may be completed to this point up to several hours in advance and kept at room temperature, covered.)
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until top is crisp and golden. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley before serving.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Pizza with Escarole, Fontina, & Walnuts

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Oh, escarole…. Why does every recipe for escarole involve some sort of white bean soup? I’m sure it is all delicious, but I don’t want to eat that sort of dish in July!

I am usually stumped when I receive a GIGANTIC head of escarole in my farm share. I have sautĂŠed it as a side dish and enjoyed it in Escarole, Feta, & Shrimp Pasta. This recipe was a new application and I really enjoyed it. The greens were wonderful with the fontina. I used my new favorite pizza dough recipe, 24-Hour Pizza Dough, as the base.

This recipe was adapted from The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant by Deborah Madison. It was a fun change for Movie Night Pizza. (This week was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!)

If someone has a favorite escarole recipe to share- please let me know…

  • 24-hour pizza dough
  • 1-2 T chopped, roasted walnuts
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 head escarole, washed and cut into 1-inch ribbons
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
  • 5 oz Fontina cheese, grated
  1. Prepare the pizza dough. If using 24-Hour pizza dough, remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 T olive oil in a large skillet, and sautĂŠ the onion for 3 to 4 minutes, until it begins to soften.
  3. Stir in the garlic, add the escarole, salt lightly, and cover. Let the escarole cook down for 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust the salt and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper, vinegar, and chili flakes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. If using a pizza stone, warm it for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Shape the dough, place it on a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel, and brush it with olive oil.
  6. Distribute all but a couple of tablespoons of the Fontina cheese over the dough. Cover with the escarole, walnuts, and then the rest of the cheese.
  7. Slide the pizza onto the stone and bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are nicely browned.

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One Year Ago:

Polenta Al Forno with Spinach, Ricotta, and Fontina

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This wonderful vegetarian comfort food dish was warm, creamy, cheesy, and delicious! This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. It would also be nice as an indulgent side dish. A crowd pleaser!!

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For the Polenta:

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup medium or fine cornmeal
  • Butter
  • Parmesan for soft polenta, optional
1.
For soft polenta, use 5 cups water. Bring water to a boil in a medium-size heavy sauce pan over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Pour cornmeal slowly into water, stirring with a wire whisk or wooden spoon. Continue stirring as mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.
2.
Turn heat to low. Cook for at least 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. If polenta becomes quite thick, thin it with 1/2 cup water, stir well and continue cooking. Add up to 1 cup more water as necessary, to keep polenta soft enough to stir. Put a spoonful on a plate, let it cool, then taste. Grains should be swollen and taste cooked, not raw. Adjust salt and add pepper if you wish.

To assemble the dish:

  • 1 pound spinach
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 4 ounces fontina or Swiss cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Basic soft polenta (see recipe above), kept warm
1.
Blanch spinach briefly in a large pot of boiling water, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Squeeze all excess moisture from spinach and roughly chop.
2.
In a large bowl, combine chopped spinach and ricotta. Season with salt and pepper, then add cayenne, lemon zest, half the Parmesan and all but 2 tablespoons of the fontina and stir well.
3.
Butter a 9- by 12-inch casserole dish. Ladle in half of the warm, soft polenta and spread with a spatula to make a thin layer. Spoon spinach mixture evenly over it. Top with remaining soft polenta and spread to smooth the surface. (May be made ahead up to this point, then covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.)
4.
Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and fontina. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

One Year Ago:

Baked Pasta with Spinach, Chicken Sausage & Vodka Sauce

We are HUGE fans of Vodka sauce… and cheese… and chicken sausage… and pasta… and spinach– this dish had it ALL! Even my most picky eater (my daughter) enjoyed it. 🙂 This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I increased the garlic, spinach, and fontina. It was delicious!! Perfect cold weather comfort food.

Yield: Serves 8

  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 8-9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup vodka (optional)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with hands
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 16 ounces (1 pound) baby spinach or chopped organic frozen spinach
  • 12 ounces smoked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used roasted garlic chicken sausage)
  • 10-12 ounces fontina cheese, about 8 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

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  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Remove from heat; add vodka, if desired. Return to heat; cook until almost evaporated, 1 minute.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and oregano; cook until tomatoes are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Add spinach, and cook just until wilted, about 1 minute. (If using frozen spinach, cook for 3-4 minutes.) Drain, and return contents to pot.
  4. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and cubed fontina to pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a lightly greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  5. Top with grated fontina and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

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