Brussel-Nut Sage Gratin for Day of the Dead!
1-2 butternut squash, with narrow hips and hard skins, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2-4 cups of brussels sprouts, halved
1-2 tblsp dried sage or 6-10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/2 to 1 lb of pork or poultry sausage, Italian or smoked
1 lb. of penne or farfalle pasta
1 pkg goat cheese
crushed, toasted walnuts
2-4 tblsp brown sugar
Bells & Whistles:
2-4 tblsp maple syrup
high-temp oil for roasting, like peanut or canola, with a dash of low-temp olive oil or (even better) walnut oil
breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan, s + p
2 cloves garlic, chili flakes
vegetable bouillon, sprig rosemary
This will make one big lasagna panful, give or take.
Roast On, Roaster
First, toss your butternut squash and brussels sprouts in a mixture of oil, salt, pepper, sage, maple syrup, and brown sugar, just 20-30 min in a 400-degree oven will work. Broil for the last 5 min if you have room, to crisp up those veggies nicely. You can do this a day ahead or more.
Toast up some crushed walnuts -- don't let em burn! Toasting brings out a nut's delicious oils and then browns them upon the nutmeat. Nice.
Boil your pasta in water that's been juiced up with good veggie bouillon and a sprig or two of rosemary, but don't cook it all the way! Just 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. It'll keep cooking in casserole form and you don't want it too mushy!!
Meanwhile, cut up or otherwise deconstruct about a pound of sausage of your choice, and saute in a big pot with a lil oil/butter/whatev.
Simple pork breakfast sausage or sweet Italian is best, although in deference to some dietary restrictions I went with some tasty Aidell's maple & smoked bacon sausage made with chicken and turkey. Is good. Omit for Vegetarian Purposes!!
Throw in some chopped garlic and chili flakes, then deglaze with vegefied pasta water and chicken stock (again, not necessary if you're a veg). Oh, I'd say a cup of liquid, total, will work fine.
Melt a brick of goat cheese up in there, and you've got a nice, creamy situation. Throw in another big pinch of sage!
Next, puree some of the squash, maybe a cup's worth, with chicken stock and add it to your sausage-y, creamy goat cheese mixture, which should be bubbling on a low flame.
Then mix in all of your roasted veggies with your almost-cooked pasta. The squash puree/sausage/goat cheese creaminess will help impregnate the pasta with sage-y, maple-y deliciousness.
Into the Great Wide O-Pan
Pour that radness into a baking pan.
If all your elements were still hot going in, then bake for maybe 15 min at 400 degrees. You want the edge pasta to be a lil crispy. Then sprinkle on your breadcrumbs and toasted walnuts, pop in for another 5-10 min till browned nicely, sprinkle with grated Parmesan, and serve!
If elements are going in mostly cold (like if you made the squash the day before, and/or cooked the pasta a couple of hours early), then bake for more like 45 min.at 400 degrees. You want the edge pasta to be a lil crispy. Then sprinkle on your breadcrumbs and toasted walnuts, pop in for another 5-10 min till browned nicely, sprinkle with grated Parmesan, and serve!
What a lovely way to honor the dead.