On a cold Winter’s afternoon I rolled my sleeves up to make a rich and cheesy casserole that I found on Ms. Martha’s site. The Apple, Leek and Butternut Squash Gratin sounded intriguing, so I gave the recipe a whirl, with a few green twists in the process.
Prepping the ingredients in advance, I made sure each piece the puzzle was organic and purchased each item with origin in mind. If I could buy Michigan grown apples, why would I pass over those for some raised elsewhere. Sure it requires a bit more time in the store – but it makes the extra minutes worth it when you consider the transit footprint of our groceries. Besides buying organic and as local as possible, I totally skipped the sherry in the recipe (I didn’t think it was worth buying a whole stash for just a casserole).
Getting everything chopped, trimmed and measured in advance was worth the effort as the butternut squash made gave me some bit of trouble. Most other recipes I’ve used with this tasty and supple gourd only require you to cut it in half, seed it and then pop it in the oven. So if you give this casserole a try – be forewarned!
Another note toward making this recipe a bit more sustainable – is don’t throw away any of your scraps! Whether the extra leek portions or your apple skins. You can dust the apple remnants with cinnamon and pop them in the oven at 200 degrees for about 45 minutes to create a healthy chip-like snack. The leek butts can be retained for using for soup stock. Why waste perfectly good fruits and veggies – right?!
My last tweek to making this super tasty casserole is skipping the aluminum foil. When I saw the call to cover for baking I thought to myself – “really?” Between the apples, leeks and squash there would be plenty of moisture to cook the dish through without worrying about drying it out. So why bother with wasting another material if it wasn’t necessary?
There you have it – a few easy tips on how you can make this healthy comfort food a bit more eco-friendly. Sure, you’re not growing the produce yourself or cooking with a homemade solar oven – but these little alterations will help you look for other ways to make future meals a bit more sustainable. And sometimes that’s exactly what it’s all about: being conscious and taking baby steps.