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Mother Knows Best
September 23, 2011 • Posted by Marisa McClellan

Years ago, I was on the phone with my mom when she said abruptly, "Just a second, there's a recipe I want to read to you." She had just re-discovered a pumpkin cookbook that dated back to her newlywed days and wanted to share a little of her culinary history with me.

The recipe my mom narrated that day was for a dish of pumpkin, potato, cheese and egg, all mashed together and baked in a casserole dish. I took notes as she talked and a day or so after we hung up, headed into the kitchen to update the recipe.

I used Yukon gold potatoes and butternut squash and scattered thin ribbons of fresh sage throughout. It is rich, brightly flavored and makes for an excellent holiday or potluck dish. I start thinking of it hungrily every autumn and find a reason to make it at least once a year. It also taught me to listen intently every time my mother announces she has a recipe to share.

Butternut Squash and Potato Casserole
Serves 8-10

1 cup shredded gruyere
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
2 pounds of butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves (about 6-8 leaves)
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (freshly grated is always better)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, beaten

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Combine the cheeses in a medium bowl, and measure out 1/2 cup to set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the potatoes and squash until soft. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water, and drain the rest.
  3. Return the squash and potatoes to the cooking pot and mash with a fork or hand masher. Add the butter and 1 cup of the cheese mixture cheese and stir until they melt into the mixture.
  4. Add sage, nutmeg and pepper, stir to combine and taste. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  5. Add the beaten eggs and stir to combine. Pour mixture into a baking dish and top with the reserved cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the top is browned and the casserole is bubbly.
  6. Serve warm.

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