November 6, 2009

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

Serves 4-6

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.

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  • academicsocialite: Similarly, I collect old (and some contemporary) etiquette books – I love the recommendations for new brides. I’m just grateful that my husband makes me coffee every morning. For me, that’s the recipe for true love! The pictures from your wedding are so beautiful. You both are positively glowing and so wonderful to have the autumn sun shining down on you.

    If any of you are in the mood for more wedding photos of other pink of perfection readers, the link to my own wedding is here: (Sarah – I hope it’s ok to post the link – I just got sych a thrill seeing yours. Feel free to delete if you feel it’s not appropriate!)6 years ago

  • Kristina: You look absolutely radiant! (So does your mom!) These pictures made me smile. Congratulations again.6 years ago

  • academicsocialite: I also love your mom’s suit – that red is stunning!6 years ago

  • WannaBePinkTeri: Gorgeous photos!! Stunning. The black & white of the two of you almost brought tears to my eyes.6 years ago

  • So gorgeous academicsocialite! You look just like Jean Harlow!

    I LOVE that suit my mom wore. Doesn’t she look like a million bucks? I love that picture of her during the ceremony.

    WannaBePinkTerri, Every time I see the look on Sebastian’s face in that photo, it slays me.6 years ago

  • Maria: The curlers and the lip gloss, such a perfect photo! And the perpetual smile on your face in all the images that come after it. Lovely.

    (Not to neglect the kale, or the advice for the new bride. Both sturdy. ;))6 years ago

  • Maria: And Martha – you were married at Hart House! It’s one of my very favourite places on the UofT campus. I stroll through it on my lunch hours and admire the archways and glass work. Gorgeous day. (And I’m in love with your mother-in-law’s gunmetal suit – and that you let your girls choose their own shoes – and photo 105.)6 years ago

  • Lisa (dinner party): Love old cookbooks (“beguiling breakfast coat”!) and LOVE these photos. You look absolutely radiant.6 years ago

  • academicsocialite: @Maria Oh, I loved getting married at Hart House. It’s such a beautiful, classic Toronto, location. The food there was wonderful and we were so happy to have nice weather in late September. And my mother-in-law is incredibly stylish – it’s wonderful having her as a role model/family member.

    @Sarah – old hollywood was exactly what I was going for for my dress. If I could look like I stepped right out of Cukor’s “The Women”, I knew it was right for me! :)6 years ago

  • Maria, Yeah, weddings kind of upstage kale is the lesson here. Ha!

    Lisa, I was a smiling machine! :)6 years ago

  • Karen: The wedding pictures are amazing. Best wishes!6 years ago

  • Erin: Thanks for the recipe, I am going to try that next week. I have been wanting tasty-sounding recipes involving kale. Your wedding pictures are stunning. No big surprise there with such a handsome couple!

    Hey we have a lot of tie-in’s – I am in Dallas, my dear niece is in Brooklyn, and… Okay, there are just two.6 years ago

  • Haha…and we have a love of kale! That’s a big commonality! :)6 years ago

  • Sara Rose: Hmmm. Kale. Butternut Squash. Penne. Sausage. Cheese. Pictures. Ella. Wine.


    xoxo. Muah muah!6 years ago

  • Sara Rose: Ummm so your wedding photos are super fantastic. YOUR MAMA LOOKS AMAZING AND SHOULD WEAR RED EVERYDAY!!!


    Sorry. I got kind of excited there. You gorgeous things you! That was a pink of perfection kind of day!6 years ago

  • anne: Love your wedding pictures! You look like a happy bride. I love the comment above, “a pink of perfection kind of day!”

    Awesome recipe too. Can’t wait to try this out!6 years ago

  • Suzy: Stunning photos! You look so lovely and happy. Looks like it was a joyous day. Those amazing red shoes looked fab! I love your lip colour, too (close-up of you applying it)–what brand/colour is it?6 years ago

  • sebastian: i think you look divine in your breakfast coat. :) xxoo6 years ago

  • Stephane: I think Sebastian looks pretty apple-darned-dandy proud! and happy in all your wedding photos. His buttons look positively ready to pop off in the last photo! (Talk about looking like the cat who swallowed the canary…)

    Your wedding photos are utterly lovely. But it was the curiosity of ~your~ red shoes that caught my eye at the outset. And then, ta-da: that gorgeous pop of color: your mother in her poppy-red suit paired with your stunning bouquet of flowers, red, orange-yellow and yes, turquoise! An absolutely brilliant color choice to set the tone for an obviously joyous and beautiful wedding celebration.

    Best wishes to you both!

    (Oh, and thank you for another yummy-sounding supper choice.)6 years ago

  • geek+nerd: Those excerpts are too much! I laughed so hard that coffee almost came out of my nose at “Well thank heavens she had that beguiling breakfast coat!” Wow. I roll out of bed in my sweatpants looking like Bride of Frankenstein every morning! I love squash everything, how fallish and lovely! Last week I made maple roasted butternut squash soup, and it’s going to be a repeat this week. It was inhaled!6 years ago

  • Sara Rose, My mom should definitely wear read everyday. She was an absolute vision.

    Suzy, That lip stain is so great (if a teensy bit drying) and you can use it on your cheeks, too (which I did. It’s Benefit’s Benetint, and I got the “Pocket Pal” version which has the stain on one end and a gloss on the other.

    Stephane, You’re too funny, and I just read your comment allowed to Sebastian. He said he smiled so much that day his face hurt. :) I loved loved loved the colors at our wedding and my bouquet was so beautiful I wish it were here by my side now!

    geek + nerd, Right?! I had a laugh fest myself. I don’t even really know what a breakfast coat is, but it sounds hideous. 😉6 years ago

  • BethP: I just picked up a butternut squash at the GAP market with this post in mind, but not having actually read the recipe, thought I would cook some sausages on the side. How great that the sausages are already involved! Sarah, your photos are amazing. Maybe I’ll share some of mine tomorrow night!6 years ago

  • BethP: PS Martha, I just looked at yours–wow! gorgeous!6 years ago

  • Suzy: Sarah, Thanks for the lip stain info. I’m very impressed you did your own makeup (apparently) for your wedding. I didn’t trust myself and shelled out big-time to have it done professionally. See, if I apply anything more than lipstick and eyeliner I end up looking like a two-dollar crack whore (no offense to the streetwalkers out there…though I’m assuming PoP doesn’t have much crossover appeal? And really, who am I to criticize?). I’m not exaggerating. On my wedding day, the last thing my mother said to me before going to get my makeup done was,”Make sure you don’t end up looking like a trollop, dear.” Swear to God. And yes, mother, that’s EXACTLY the look I was going for.6 years ago

  • Emily: Wow, it’s like you read my mind! Kale and butternut squash are high on my list of newly discovered favourite foods. Any suggestions for sausage substitution? (Other meats are ok, I’m not vegetarian, just not a huge fan of sausage)6 years ago

  • Evon T.: I also collect old cookbooks and hosting books. I recently bought a few of them, each for $1 or less at an outdoor auction market in New Jersey (3-4 hours from my home in Maryland). My father was shocked that I spent the day up there with all of the vendors and excitement, only to walk away with 3 old cookbooks (but fabulous) and a few little odds and ends. It was like Christmas for me! I couldn’t wait to get back on the bus and go through each of them and imagine which recipes I’d try first. Matter of fact, my family and I went on a bus trip up there again this morning! I bought a desserts cookbook that’s old but wonferful. And I just love how they look on my bookshelves! Personally, I think that wives should try to spiffy up a tad before the husband gets out of bed (cus we all know how visiual men are). Even if it’s nothing more than brushing the teeth, hair, and putting a bit of mascara on. I’m still trying to figure out a way to wrap my hair at night without turning off the fiance! Although he has never minded it and is still “ready to go” always, I’m seeking ways of merging beauty function/necessity with starlot-dome. Luv you, Sarah!6 years ago

  • academicsocialite: Emily, I bet you could substitute some already cooked shredded chicken for the sausage to no ill effect. I might then play around with the seasoning to amp it up a notch to make for the missing spice of the sausage.6 years ago

  • Dana McCauley: Kudos! Kale is such an underused veggie. Glad to see it getting some love!6 years ago

  • Laura: I Love Kale and I love your blog. Its my little slice of America that I would love to experience.

    Congrats on your wedding, the pics are beautiful.6 years ago

  • Suzy, That’s hilarious, but it was no small challenge to do my own makeup. I’ve put liquid eyeliner on a 1000 times but my hand has never trembled as much as it did that day. I couldn’t even get my hair through a pony tail holder and had to call in help!

    Emily, This would be great without the sausage and without adding another meet in its place. You could add a little more crushed red pepper if that’s your thing, though. (Personally, I can’t get enough!).

    Evon, Flea markets are a great place to get old cookbooks, in fact, I think I got this one at one. Do you actually make the recipes? Sometimes they seem a little scary (too much gelatin, etc).6 years ago

  • Emily: Squash/kale are high on my radar. Fall might be my favorite food season.

    Morningstar and Gimmelean (?) both make good veg sausage you could easily substitute.

    There is something delightfully domestic sounding about casserole….thanks for the inspiration.6 years ago

  • Fran: Sarah,

    Beautiful pictures. I love the red shoes with the wedding gown! You have a beautiful smile.6 years ago

  • Emily, I couldn’t agree more about casserole. It brings up such homey feelings.

    Fran, My mom once told me you should always wear red shoes on important days. I love stylish superstitions!6 years ago

  • michella: I made this last night and can’t stop eating it!!6 years ago

  • Sinclair: Hi Sarah- just made this, and it is delicious. I plan to snag my man with it next week. Wish me luck. Maybe I need a breakfast coat to seal the deal?6 years ago

  • You’ll be fine without the breakfast coat (though perhaps a wardrobe change after dinner couldn’t hurt?) 😉 Good luck!6 years ago

  • Fabien Tepper: My mother and I have just glutted ourselves on an herbivorous version of this recipe that included whole spelt spaghetti, Tofurkey Italian Sausages, and no milk. Horribly delicious. Thank you!!6 years ago

  • Allyn: This recipe truly rocks my world. I’ve made it about half a dozen times since discovering this recipe, and have passed it on again and again, crediting you. It’s amazing!6 years ago

  • Wow, I’m so flattered and delighted, Allyn! Here’s to recipes you can make six times in a season and not get sick of! :)6 years ago

  • Angela: Oh my! This dish + Olympic curling = the most awesome Saturday night in!! Thanks so much, Sarah. The only bummer was having the leftovers disappear within two days. I was looking forward to eating it all week long. Hugs!5 years ago

  • Anonymous Coward: I have made this recipe a couple of times, and love it. I substituted spaghetti squash for the pasta, today, and it’s good that way, too. I prefer the pasta, but my wife likes it with the spaghetti squash better.5 years ago

  • Ak138: I made this tonight! Its amazing! My husband is vegetarian so I replaced the sausage with vegan sausage, from the Field Roast Co. It was just as tasty and very easy to make- I will def. be making this again, the squash gives it a touch of sweetness and I will have leftovers for a few days!
    yay thanks so much!3 years ago

  • This Too « Pink of Perfection: […] for dinner. It is, for the record, my second most loathed kitchen task, right after peeling butternut squash. But the other night at the grocery store I scooped them up from a cardboard box wondering whether […]3 years ago

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Food is the most primitive form of comfort.
- Sheila Graham