As the leaves began falling off the trees recently, I got the chance to spend some time with my now two-year-old niece.
She’s in love with being in the backyard, so we went outside for awhile, and she showed me the crunchy leaves laying in the grass.
She would carefully pick up each one she found, hold it where the two of us could both hear and then roll it in her hand, saying, “Crumple, crumple, crumple.”
Fall is my favorite time of year, especially when it comes to the squash and cinnamon and other warm flavors it immediately becomes in vogue to cook with.
In that vein, I found the perfect fall recipe by Andi Gleeson, which comes from the blog “The Weary Chef.” You can find the original at https://wearychef.com/fall-potluck-casserole-with-turkey-and-squash/. I changed up the spices and the amounts of some of the ingredients.
- 1.5 pounds butternut squash diced
- 12 ounces frozen spinach thawed and drained
- 1 1/2 rounded cup of frozen hashbrowns shredded or diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 pound ground turkey
- salt and pepper to taste
- 6-8 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1-1/2 cup milk I used skim
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese divided
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare a 9×13-inch baking pan by coating it in cooking spray and set it aside.
- Cut up the vegetables and make sure you squeeze all of the excess moisture out of the spinach. Combine the squash, spinach, and hashbrowns in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- In a skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat and saute the onions until they’re soft. Add the ground turkey and salt and pepper and cook through, crumbling it as you go. Add the garlic, oregano, basil, sage and parsley and saute for another couple of minutes.
- Sprinkle on the flour and stir. Let it cook for about a minute to get rid of the flour taste and then add the milk, stirring to bring up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Let the mixture simmer, stirring often, until it thickens into a gravy-like consistency.
- Remove the turkey mixture from the heat and add it and one-half cup of parmesan cheese to the mixing bowl. Stir to combine all the ingredients and dump it into the prepared pan.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the squash can be pierced easily with a fork.
- Spread the remaining cheese on the top and bake for about five more minutes to melt it, and then serve.
This was an amazing dinner, and as we were eating, we discussed how good it would be with a runny fried egg on top as well, which is how we ended up enjoying the leftovers the next morning for breakfast.
It would also be a great side dish on a Thanksgiving table, if you’re looking for something new.
And I’d especially recommend making this for dinner on a night when you can go outside and crumple leaves with a two year old.
It beats raking any day.
This piece first appeared in print on Nov. 7, 2019.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.