By Debra Knapke
This time of year is light on fresh produce grown in the Midwest.* Traditionally, we have canned, dried, frozen or stored the bounty from the fall harvest. Pickles, preserves, dried fruits and vegetables were the mainstays of the winter diet before grocery stores offered out-of-season food.
What remains of our stored food is squash, potatoes and apples. Below is a recipe that uses butternut squash and apples along with a Midwest favorite: maple syrup. Enjoy!
*Check out your local Winter Farmer’s Markets. More farmers are growing cold tolerant vegetables and fruits in low-tunnel greenhouses and cold frames. Also, look for hydroponically grown food. It’s a growing trend.
¼ c. (1/2 stick) butter
¾ c. pure maple syrup
¼ c. apple cider or juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. allspice
½ tsp. salt
3 small butternut squashes, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, cut crosswise into 1/3″-thick slices
4 6-ounce Gold Rush (or other firm, tart apple) apples, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/4″-thick slices
Dried cranberries or golden raisins
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Stir butter, maple syrup and apple cider in small saucepan over medium-low heat until butter melts. Increase heat and boil until mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in cinnamon, allspice and salt.
Layer the squash and apple slices: Arrange 1/3 of squash slices in prepared dish. Top with half of apple slices, 1/3 of squash slices, the remaining apples and finally the last third of the squash slices. Scatter the cranberries or raisins as desired in the layers of the casserole. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Pour maple syrup mixture over. Cover baking dish tightly with foil.
Bake casserole until squash is almost tender, about 40- 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until squash is tender, basting occasionally with syrup, about 20 minutes longer. Spoon syrup from dish over vegetables and serve.