I know for some people, butternut squash is not a part of their regular routine, but to those people I say — why on earth not?! I love butternut squash (and all winter squashes for that matter) so regularly find ways to tuck it into recipes wherever I can. It’s great in soups and chilis but my favorite way to use it is in recipes where it is really at the forefront, like this simple and rustic casserole. This bake is a master of sweet and savory balance, combining that sweet and tender squash with apples and maple syrup but also savory Italian sausage, leeks, and fresh sage (and a crispy breadcrumb topping and a touch of Gruyere too).
This is kind of a twice-baked situation where you’re going to roast the squash and apples while you work on the other components so the heartier stuff has a bit of a head start. So first, you’ll need to prepare your squash. Just slice off the top and bottom ends and then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and then using a basic vegetable peeler, peel off the skin.
From there, cut the squash and the apples into like-sized cubes. Throw ’em in a bowl and toss them with olive oil, sage, and thyme. While those roast in the oven, you can start to build the rest of the bake.
That includes browning up some Italian sausage, removing it to a bowl, and then cooking down some leeks and garlic in the same skillet.
Then you’ll toss it all together and toss it into a baking dish.
Top it with Gruyere and breadcrumbs (two of my favorite things!) and bake.
What emerges from the oven is something rustic, something homey but also something with an amazing balance of sweet and savory, soft and crunchy, and a little autumnal and cheesy to top it all off.
Butternut Squash Casserole
15m prep time
50m cook time
- 1 (2 lb) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 fuji, pink lady, or honeycrisp apples, peeled and cubed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 leek, halved and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with foil.
- In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash and apples with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add sage and thyme and toss until well coated.
- Spread mixture out on prepared baking sheet and roast until squash and apples are tender, stirring halfway through cooking time, about 35 minutes.
- While squash and apples cook, place a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, then crumble Italian sausage into the hot pan. Cook until browned, breaking sausage apart as it cooks. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
- To same skillet, add leek. Reduce heat if needed, and cook until soft and starting to caramelize, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove to bowl with sausage.
- In a large bowl (or bowl with sausage, if large enough) combine sausage/leek mixture and apple/squash mixture. Add maple syrup and season to taste with salt and pepper and gently toss to combine.
- Transfer mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with gruyere cheese.
- Toss breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle over casserole. Bake until golden brown and cheese is bubbly, 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!