I remember when my Mother got her first Cuisinart in the 70s. They were about the same price they are now but in ’70s dollars, they weren’t cheap. But my Mother was notorious for buying any labor-saving device that would get her out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. So it wasn’t a surprise that she latched onto the Cuisinart in the first wave of buyers. I remembered asking her what she could make with it. “Peanut Butter” she replied, “and Duxelles”. Why you would spend over $200.00 for something you could get in a jar for .79 cents was a little beyond me. And I can positively guarantee that no dish involving Duxelles, that paste of finely chopped mushrooms and shallots so dear to classic French cuisine, ever came out of my mother’s kitchen. But in trying to find some vegetarian dishes to share with you, I came across a wonderful casserole of Butternut Squash, and yes, Duxelles.
This really is a great dish. I came across it in Vegetarian Times but I had to make major adjustments to the recipe. I really had to wonder if there were misprints. The version below is my own variation and it really is good. The squash is used rather like a lasagna noodle with layers of Duxelles taking the place of a meat filling and then topped with a cream sauce made with non-fat milk and cheese. It’s amazingly rich and lets you practice portion control because it is very satisfying. I also thought this would make a wonderful side dish with a roast of any kind—chicken, pork, beef—but try it first as the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal with a green salad on the side or some haricots verts or even frozen peas. This one is a keeper.
Recipe for Butternut Squash and Duxelles Casserole
1 lb of fresh mushrooms with their stems. Choose cremini (baby bellas), or Portobellos for this.
2 shallots coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 cup 1% low fat milk
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 2 ½ lb. butternut squash, peeled and seeded and cut into 1/8 inch slices
- Pulse mushrooms in the food processor 20 times or until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Place shallots in the food processor and pulse 20 times or until finely chopped. Put them in the bowl with the mushrooms.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots, seasoning with salt, if desired. Stirring occasionally, cook 10 minutes or until mushrooms have released their liquid, and most of the liquid has evaporated and the shallots are lightly browned. Stir in the parsley and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 inch pie pan or gratin dish, with cooking spray.
- Bring the milk, flour and garlic to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook two minutes or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in half the cheese and the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
- Spread 1/3 of the squash in the prepared dish covering the bottom entirely. Top with half the ‘duxelles’ and top that with 1/3 of the cheese sauce. Repeat the layers ending with a third layer of squash. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top (about a half a cup or more). Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is browned and the squash is fork tender. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.