New Mexican-Style Roasted Butternut Squash with Hatch Chiles and Three-Cheese Casserole
By Heidi Allison
Somewhere between Mexican Chilaquiles and a modern Southwestern-style lasagna, this satisfyingly cheesy casserole with a barely discernible “kick” is comfort food at its best. Showcasing the regional flavors of New Mexico with sweet, caramelized, roasted butternut squash, roasted “not-too hot” earthy Hatch chilies, warm corn tortillas, and gooey melted cheese, this dish makes a satisfying vegetarian entrée paired with a salad and a crisp Chardonnay, light red or heavy white wine. This also works as a side dish with garlic roasted chicken or paired with a low-and-slow braised rich meat, such as short ribs.
The caveat with this dish is not to overcook the corn tortillas: the texture should resemble an “al dente lasagna noodle”— do not fry the tortillas to the point of being crisp—just soft and pliable. Before serving, drizzle a small amount of Tomatillo Salsa or Green Jalapeno sauce over the top, which imparts complexity and depth. The acidic grace note of these green sauces perfectly complements the subtle inherent sweetness of this dish , and, adds a bit more chili "heat". This dish reheats well in the microwave and makes a great weekend brunch fare served with poached eggs and a side of smoky bacon.
2 butternut squash
, cut in half and seeds removed
2 Tbs. Avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Mexican crema, room temperature
1 Tbs. cumin seed, toasted and freshly ground
½ tsp. fried sage (optional)
1 tsp. flake salt
2 mild or medium Hatch chiles
, roasted, seeded and cut into a ¼ inch dice
(can substitute with green Anaheim chilies
or a mixture of poblano and jalapeño
8 small organic corn tortillas
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese (can substitute with Monterey Jack)
4 slices of Pepper Jack Cheese
¼ cup Cotija cheese
Preheat oven to 425°F and position rack in the center of the oven. Sprinkle salt and pepper over cut squash halves and film with avocado oil. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and place squash, cut side down, on baking sheet. Put in the oven and roast till fork tender—about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven to cool and set aside.
Scoop flesh from the squash into a large bowl. Add Mexican crema, cumin, sage and salt. Mash with a fork until combined and almost free of lumps.
In a medium skillet, add ¼ cup avocado oil and heat on medium heat till hot. Add 4 tortillas to skillet and sauté till just soft, then turn over and cook the other side for another 30 seconds. The tortillas should have the texture of al dente lasagna noodles—should not be crisp. Remove tortillas to a paper towel to drain. Repeat with second batch.
Spread 1/3 of squash mixture on the bottom of a 2-inch deep ceramic pie pan. Layer with soft corn tortillas, then another layer of squash mixture. Top with a sprinkling of chilies and 1 cup of fontina cheese. Repeat with tortillas, chilies, sage (if using in this recipe). Finish the top layer with the last 4 slices of pepper jack cheese and cotija cheese. Cover with foil.
Place squash casserole in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and heat until cheese is melting and bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then serve.