Baked Butternut Squash and Cheese Polenta

What can I say about polenta? To me, it is simple, hearty, filling, stick to your ribs goodness. But I guess simple is the key word because it does take a lot of adornment to attain deliciousness. However, polenta is almost like rice- it is a blank palette  and you can season it up to your liking and so to me it's fun to play with. My favorite polenta is simply cooked in milk with hefty amounts of butter and cheese added at the end. This baked polenta is a fancier version of that with butternut squash added for health factor but lots of cheese and just enough butter to make you crave it. Try this as an interesting new addition to your next dairy meal, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

(adapted from Food and Wine)
2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into pieces
3 Tbl oil
2 onions, diced
2 Tbl oil
6 cups vegetable stock or water and bouillon
2 cups polenta or corn meal
2 Tbl butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup smoked Mozzarella cheese, grated
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (divided)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbl butter cut into small cubes
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350. Toss the squash with the oil, season with salt and pepper and roast until tender. Mash coarsely and set aside. In a saute pan saute the onions in 2 Tbl oil until golden.
Bring 6 cups of stock to a boil. Add the salt and polenta and whisk until the polenta is cooked through. About 10-20 minutes depending on the thickeness of your cornmeal. When it is tender it is ready. Add the butter to the polenta and then the cheeses (reserving 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese), nutmeg and squash mixture. Don't mix it too much, you want to see some of the squash. Season well with salt and pepper and pour the mixture into a buttered dish. Top with the rest of the Parmesan and dot with the butter and bake for 15 minutes until the top is a little crispy.


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