Butternut Squash and Kale Casserole
I have quite a thing for old cookbooks. When in a junk store, if the embroidered handkerchiefs, table linens, and dresses fall short, I always know I can find a treasure among the cookbooks. I’ve collected such gems as The Discriminating Hostess, The Better Homes and Garden Guide to Entertaining (in which one of the driving conflicts is how to entertain without hired help), and one that seems more apropos than ever, Cooking for Brides, which contains the following inscription:
To Shirley—I have a book like this and it’s amazing how many things I didn’t know about are all in here. Of course, you know about it already, but in case you forget, this may come in handy. Love, Polly
Wait, is Polly talking about crudité or some far greater mystery to young brides in 1947? In any case, this book is filled with all sorts of gems as soon as we open Chapter 1, “From Wedding Gown to Kitchen Apron”:
This book is written for the day when in the natural sequence of events, you put away your white satin and orange blossoms and turn to ruffled plastic aprons and parsley.
Goodness, what a dreary start! And I haven’t even gotten to the instructions for breakfast!
An intelligent and beautiful bride I once knew had an excellent plan of procedure. Setting her mind to it, she rose fifteen minutes before her husband and slipped noiselessly into her dressing room. There she tinted her complexion and put on a beguiling breakfast coat. When her husband’s eyes rested on her, a few minutes afterward, she looked as though she had just stepped from a freshly washed and rosy cloud. Breakfast proceeded happily and at the last check the marriage was proceeding securely.
Well thank heavens she had that beguiling breakfast coat!
I’m not the short order breakfast cook in our house (Denise, the diner waitress down the street, thinks I’m starving “my man”), but I do dinner with flair. At this later hour of the day, aided by a glass of wine, perhaps, and the dulcet tones of Ella Fitzgerald, I even rise to Mrs. Dorothy Malone’s edict: “Be pretty, be bright, be cheerful–and be a good cook!”
Our first night back from the heat and humidity of our honeymoon, I was eager to make something properly autumnal. Between a wedding in Texas and a honeymoon in Mexico, we missed out on two weeks of New York at its fall finest, and I felt I had some quick catching-up to do. Nothing seemed more properly newlywedish than a casserole — homey, humble, and utterly delicious.
And for those of you who have asked for more, a link to our wedding photographer’s site with a few more pictures.
Butternut Squash and Kale Casserole
1 13-ounce box of whole wheat penne (you could also bump it up to a pound)
1 small bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped (yielding about 1 1/2 cups)
3 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1½ cups grated asiago cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Set a large pot filled with water over high heat and cook pasta until al dente (it will continue to cook in oven). Drain and set aside.
In another large, deep pot, heat olive oil over moderately high heat and add onion and sausages. Cook for a couple of minutes, breaking apart sausages and allowing to slightly brown. Add butternut squash and 1/2 cup water. Continue cooking until squash is nearing tenderness. Add chopped kale, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, and continue cooking several minutes more until kale is tender. Lower heat.
Combine pasta with kale and squash mixture, stirring in milk and butter. Pour into a large casserole dish (I needed one 2-quart dish plus a gratin dish), top with grated cheese, and bake for about 20 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.