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Butternut bake - a vegetarian dinner

Updated on June 19, 2015
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Butternut squash and cheese bake

This is a lovely meat-free dinner that I make quite frequently, featuring tasty butternut squash and cheese.

It's a very simple recipe to make and couldn't be nicer when served with a simple green salad. The preparation time is under ten minutes.

Like many of the meatless dinners I make, this started life as a 'what on earth do I do with this' meal. I'd never cooked butternut squash before but then I was faced with one - and very little else was in stock. Don't you find that some of your tastiest recipes start that way?

Nowadays, I make this regularly but the first time I made it I found that I had the squash, some ricotta, some Parmesan and some bread. It made a great dinner even though the ingredients were so simple.The squash is baked with a little olive oil and topped with the cheeses and breadcrumbs. You could experiment with different cheeses and if you're following a vegan diet, or don't eat cheese with animal by products, simply use a vegan Parmesan.

Bake the butternut squash

PREPARE THE BUTTERNUT

One medium sized squash serves two people. Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Coat the bottom of an over dish with olive oil. I used about a tablespoon. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds at the 'lumpy end'. I wash the squash carefully and wipe it clean rather than peel it - the skin gives the dish and extra crunch.

SLICE THE SQUASH

Cut the squash into slices and arrange in the oven dish in overlapping layers as you see in the photograph above. Out the dish in the oven - the squash take about 25 minutes to bake beautifully but keep checking as your oven might be different. I leave a slice of squash on top of the rest as my tester piece.

Topping ingredients

You'll need:

Half a cup of Parmesan cheese
Half a cup of ricotta
One slice of bread from a crusty loaf. The bread I used was our favorite from a local bakery - olive bread - but any good bread will be fine.

Amounts aren't critical - a little cheese more or less won't affect the dish.

Add the ricotta on top of the butternut

Simply spoon the ricotta on top of the baked squash and return the dish to the oven while you prepare the crunchy topping.

The crunchy topping

If you have a blender or food processor, make breadcrumbs from the slice of bread. If not, it takes less than a minute to grate the bread into crumbs. Add the Parmesan and mix the two together. Add this to the top of the dish and return it to the oven until the topping is golden and crunchy. You can give it a helping hand under the broiler if you wish.

Quick salad

Make a quick salad to accompany the dish. I used kale and sliced red pepper. I don't add oil because I've used it already in the butternut squash dish, but a slice of lemon is good. I serve the salad separately on it's own plate.

Further reading

I'm old enough to remember the days when vegetarian cooking meant mainly nut loaves, lentil stews and nut cutlets - meatless meals weren't very inventive in those days. As time passed though, and everyone began to realize the benefits of eating less meat, some wonderful chefs and vegetarian cooks developed great recipes that we can all have at our fingertips.

Photography credits

All photographs taken in my kitchen during the preparation of this dish.

Thanks for reading - please say hello

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    • TerriCarr profile image

      TerriCarr 3 years ago

      This dish sounds really good. I shouldn't even be reading this since I am fasting today :-) Gotta go!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @RinchenChodron: Enjoy!

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      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      Looks delicious! And the squash is abundant right now. Think I'll try it - Thanks!

    • profile image

      yourlocalpt 4 years ago

      it looks delicious. i wanna try this.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @WeaselPuppy: The funny thing is that I avoided it for many years too. I think it was the word 'squash' that put me off - that doesn't sound especially tasty! But I'm so glad that I got over it :) It's SO good!

    • WeaselPuppy profile image

      WeaselPuppy 4 years ago

      It sounds delicious! I have been avoiding butternut squash, but this might be a good use for it.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @LouisaDembul: The first time I made it, I hadn't cooked butternut squash before - I was surprised it was so successful :)

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 4 years ago

      I like butternut squash, and wlll try to make this recipe!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

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      anonymous 4 years ago

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    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @jennysue19: Thanks - it's very yummy!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @weakbond: Thank you for visiting. It's very tasty indeed!

    • zabrinaw profile image

      zabrinaw 4 years ago

      That looks delicious. Do you find you have trouble cutting the butternut squash? I always struggle with it and avoid cooking squash as a result!

    • jennysue19 profile image

      jennysue19 4 years ago

      gets my vote!

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 4 years ago from Johanesburg

      Great tips ,looks yummy , thanks for sharing .

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @zabrinaw: This may sound strange but I cut it with a breadknife!

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      Auriel 4 years ago

      great recipe tips.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Find-Online: I hope you enjoy it - we love it!

    • Find-Online profile image

      Find-Online 4 years ago

      Now I know another way to cook butternut squash when we get our garden harvest in the Fall. Great lens!