To get a head start, roast the garlic, caramelize the onions, and even assemble this robust casserole the day before you plan to serve it. Use leftover roasted garlic to flavor soups, or combine with olive oil as a spread for toasted baguette slices. Pancetta is Italian unsmoked bacon. You can substitute regular smoked bacon, but use less, as the smoky flavor is more assertive.
1/2 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (16-ounce) cans cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°.
Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap garlic head in foil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Set half of garlic pulp aside; reserve remaining garlic pulp for another use. Discard skins.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; sauté 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove pancetta from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Add onion and 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 25 minutes or until onion is very tender and browned, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Add garlic pulp, pancetta, squash, and next 6 ingredients (through bay leaf) to onion mixture, stirring well. Place bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure about 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil; sprinkle evenly over squash mixture. Cover and bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until squash is tender. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until topping is browned. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley.
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Overall the flavor in this dish was good, but the squash never became tender. I did add extra squash (the one I had was 2lbs. 10oz.) but also extra broth (along with the other recommendations), and this should have aided in steaming the squash. I used frozen homemade broth cubes, but as I had everything ready an hour before it needed to go in the oven they should have come to room temperature by then. After baking for over an hour the squash pieces were still fibrous, but we had to go ahead and eat it as it was. I held back the breadcrumb topping until the end, and it never browned either. After supper I put the rest back in the oven to (ahem) finish cooking. I'm glad it was just the two of us as trying to serve this to company would have been embarrassing. Roasting a whole squash takes less than an hour, so I don't know why cut-up pieces didn't cook in that time. I would probably make this again but at a higher temperature or allowing for more time in the oven.
This is one of my all-time favorite fall/winter dishes and have been making it since the recipe was first published. Like most suggestions, I use more squash ( and more broth) and less beans. Because my husband is a meat-eater and pancetta only wouldn't be enough for him, I brown boneless, skinless chicken thighs after removing the pancetta. I remove the thighs then nestle them in the onion/squash mixture before cooking in the oven.
Yum! I followed the advice of other reviewers and I'm so glad I did! I used a whole squash (about 6 cups), the whole head of garlic, 1 less can of beans, about 6 oz. of bacon, a whole teaspoon of thyme. I also added more broth, about a cup. Next time I may add some other spices. Perhaps some marjoram...Overall we loved this meal! Hearty, healthy and delicious!
Based on other reviews, I switched up the proportions a bit and met with great success. First, I used 6 cups of squash and around 4 cups of beans (cooked from dry, equivalent to maybe 2-2.5 cans). I used all of the garlic. I used 8 pieces of bacon and cooked 3 cups sweet onions in ~2 tbsp bacon fat. I didn't feel like chopping such a small amount of parsley, so I just mixed some dried parsley in with the crumb topping. I also didn't add the crumb topping until the last 15 minutes of baking. It turned out really well. The prep was easy, but there is a lot of waiting around, so it's not something to make if you are short on time.
As an aside, it's really easy to make breadcrumbs without breaking out the food processor. Just take the bread you want to use, remove the crusts and put them in the fridge, uncovered, when you start your prep. By the time you need them, the bread should be dried out enough that you can crumble it easily with your fingers. Takes seconds and no mess.
I love this recipe! I liked it so much that I made it twice in 2 weeks (I almost never make a recipe twice even in a year). This is a great dish for fall. I like to serve it with chicken and creamed spinach, or as a vegetarian entree.
Check out my edits to this recipe and my full post at http://sweetspatulas.com/2012/10/09/butternut-squash-cassoulet/
My husband and I really enjoyed this recipe. I thought it could use one less can of beans and more squash. I used the whole head of garlic. I also thought it was a tiny bit dry, next time I'll use a bit more broth. I loved the pancetta in it, overall I think my changes would be minor. Very good fall recipe.
My husband and I loved this recipe! I made a few adjustments. I also wanted to use my whole squash so I used one less can of beans. I didn’t have pancetta so I used dried chorizo (fabulous). I will definitely make this again! I would recommend cooking for about 5 minutes less than recommended during covered cooking.
This was really good. I doubled the thyme and think it made a big difference. I agree you could probably knock off a can of beans and add in another cup or so of butternut squash, but it's also plenty good as it is. I also used 2 oz. bacon instead of the pancetta because it's what I had on hand. I think it worked out alright, but I would double the amount of bacon next time because I think the extra flavor would be welcome and I doubt that when spread over five servings it would affect the nutritional profile too badly. I do NOT think it would be too smoky, as CL suggests. Next time I'll go with the pancetta though to see how it works. Oh, I also used most of the garlic, because roasted garlic is awesome. It reheats fine, but it is much better when served out of the oven, when the breadcrumb topping is still crispy. Prep is pretty quick and easy as well. Definitely a hearty winter dish that makes the house smell good.
I give this recipe two stars, though I don't think it has potential. It wasn't awful, but it certainly isn't something I will be making again. Essentially, it's just a bunch of things thrown together; I can't say I think the flavors exactly melded in together.