Creamy Squash Casserole

I hesitate a bit when someone asks me how I eat. Food has been key to my healing process since the late 1980s, and how I eat continues to evolve as I learn more about food and how my body responds to it. Where I am now isn’t necessarily a good starting point for someone making their first steps to improve their health by eating better. It’s too much change at once. Most folks, I’ve learned, are looking for simple and delicious ways to improve their eating habits amidst their busy lives. In that regard, I’m no different. So for the next few months, I plan to share the “standards” around our house, that is, the recipes Hubby and I turn to again and again because they are quick, delicious and keep us heathy. They are also gluten and dairy-free.

I want to offer this comforting squash casserole while butternut and other winter squash are still available. The recipe is inspired by a similar one in the cookbook Yoga Kitchen: Vegetarian Recipes from the Shoshoni Yoga Retreat by Faith Stone and Rachel Guidry. You can use any kind of winter squash as long as you have two pounds. This casserole is also delicious prepared with the mild turnips sold by many of our local organic growers.

A word about raw cashews: I stopped buying them locally because they were always rancid. I have found to be a good source. I buy them in one pound bags and order no more than I can use in a month or two.

For stock, I keep Rapunzel unsalted vegetable bouillon cubes on hand. I use one cube with this recipe, added to the nuts and water in the blender. I find prepared stocks overwhelmingly salty. We scoop this casserole over a mound of raw broccoli florets chopped into bite size pieces in a bowl and dinner is served. It would make an excellent side dish, too.

Creamy Squash Casserole 2 pounds butternut squash 2 TBSP grape seed oil or ghee 1 medium onion, finely chopped 2 tsp dried sage 1 1/2 cups raw macadamia nuts or cashews 1 1/2 cups water with one Rapunzel vegetable bouillon cube added Salt and Pepper to taste 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 9 x 9-inch casserole dish.

Peel the squash, if desired, then seed it. Cut the squash into roughly 1 to 2-inch cubes. Place in a steamer basket in a large saucepan. Steam until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain in a colander, transfer to the oiled casserole dish and set aside.

While the squash is steaming, heat the oil or ghee in a skillet. Sauté the onion until soft. Add the sage and stir until the onion is coated.

While the onion is cooking, combine the nuts, water and bouillon cube in a blender and process until creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the onions and stir until well combined. Allow to simmer for a few minutes to combine the flavors. Pour evenly over the squash. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 to 10 minutes more. Garnish with parsley if desired. Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish.

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