Butternut squash casserole from Simple Bites Kitchen cookbook

A fall dish that's perfect for any night of the week, not just the holidays.

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The turkey will just have to share the spotlight on your Thanksgiving table with this casserole. This butternut squash casserole with apple and leek is just one of the many homely, simple and approachable dishes in Aimée Wimbush-Bourque's new cookbook, Simple Bites Kitchen. With the variety of fall and winter produce available at the stores now, it's the perfect time to give it a try. 

2 lbs butternut squash
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only
2 tbsp ghee, or unsalted butter
1 green apple
1 large egg
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup panko crumbs, divided
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Peel and seed the squash, then cut it into ½-inch (1 cm) cubes, yielding about 4 heaping cups. Place in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil squash for 10 minutes, or until fork-tender but still able to hold its shape. Drain well and cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 3-quart (3 L) baking dish with the olive oil.

Quarter the leek lengthwise and cut into ½-inch (1 cm) pieces.

In a large saucepan, melt the ghee over medium heat. Add the leeks and stir to coat them in the ghee. Partially cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until very soft but not browning, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, core the apple and cut it into ½-inch (1 cm) cubes. Add the apple to the leeks and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

In a large bowl, beat together the egg, ¾ cup (175 mL) of the Parmesan, ¼ cup (60 mL) of the panko, the mayonnaise, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Gently  but thoroughly fold in the cooked squash and the leek and apple mixture. Scrape the squash mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Stir together the remaining ¼ cup (60 mL) Parmesan and ¼ cup (60 mL) panko. Sprinkle over the casserole. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is light golden. Serve hot.