Gourmandistan gets no trick-or-treaters on Halloween, since our land is remote, inaccessible and surrounded by old people. So we have no bowls of candy, and no pumpkin carved into a frightening jack-o’-lantern. What we did have this evening were a number of winter squashes, a good amount of chicken stock, and half a loaf of day-old no-knead bread. And that, plus onions, is pretty much all you need for a squash panade.
Panades have an established place in Gourmandistan, usually appearing as we deal with mountains of farm share chard each Spring. But while once again leafing through one of our many Alice Waters cookbooks, Michelle came across the winter squash panade recipe and decided it would be a good way to deal with the pile of squashes and the stale bread. Plus, it would be orange—the perfect color for All-Hallow’s Eve. So she sliced bread, sautéed onions, grated cheese and poured stock while Steve sat on the couch and killed ghouls. (It’s not a Halloween thing—Steve kills ghouls in video games almost every day.) About an hour and a half later we had a cheesy, orange-y delight—the bread on top crusty, the slices underneath soaked in broth and mixed with tender butternut squash ribbons (a technique we recently learned from Savoring Kentucky). Less greasy than our Spring panade, this Winter squash version was a real Halloween treat. But while we look forward to leftovers for dinner tomorrow, we’re still haunted by Gourmandistan’s real spectre—the end of the season of local produce, and the beginning of our long, lonely Winter.
WINTER SQUASH PANADE
(adapted from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables) (4 servings)
- 2 large sweet onions, peeled and sliced thin
- several TB. olive oil (or duck fat if you’re lucky enough to have some)
- 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- fresh thyme leaves
- 1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and flesh cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
- 4-6 slices country-style bread
- 1-1/2 quarts chicken stock, warmed
- Salt and pepper
- Gruyère or other melting cheese + some Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Sauté onions in olive oil in a large skillet until starting to caramelize, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and thyme and cook for a while longer. Set aside.
Lightly brown bread slices on both sides in a skillet in olive oil.
Cover bottom of a round casserole dish with half of the toasted bread slices. Add half of the onions. Layer squash ribbons over. Season with salt and pepper. Add remaining onions. Ladle broth over until ingredients are soaked. Top with remaining bread. Add more broth until top layer of bread is soaked through. Grate cheeses over.
Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Remove cover, then back in the oven for 30 minutes more.
Serve in bowls with broth ladled over.