These cakes are a simple showcase for winter squash. But they turn into a weeknight treat with the addition of a sweet, fruity sauce that cooks down while you cook the cakes.
Butternut Squash-Leek Cakes with Red Wine-Balsamic Reduction
1 medium butternut squash (or any winter squash), trimmed, peeled, and cut into large 1-inch dice (about 5 cups)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt, to taste
1 cup oat bran (bread crumbs should work, if you prefer)
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, quartered
2-3 TBSP oil, for cooking
Steam the butternut squash until tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel away the tough outer layers of the leeks and chop the white and tender green parts only (this will yield about a cup). Heat the 1 TBSP of oil and saute the leeks with a pinch of salt until tender and browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
When the squash is tender, add it to the bowl and stir in the sage, oregano, salt, and oat bran. Set aside to let cool.
While the cake mix cools, add the red wine (we used a Garnacha) to the pan you used to brown the leeks. Bring to a simmer, add the shallot, vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Simmer over medium-low heat until a syrup consistency is reached, 10-20 minutes. (The type of vinegar you use will affect the cooking time. We used an already thick walnut balsamic from The Tree and Vine on Union that a friend gave us. A thinner variety will put your cooking time on the longer end of the range. Don't worry if it takes a little extra time.) When it's ready, pour the reduction through a sieve and discard the solids.
When the cake mix is cool enough to comfortably handle, use a potato masher to mash the mixture just until a handful will stay together when formed into a cake. Test the mixture after every few mashes, and leave as many large chunks of squash intact as possible. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, and form cakes about four inches in diameter, an inch or less thick. (We got 9 cakes.)
Oil a pan or griddle and cook the cakes in batches until browned and warmed through. Serve with the reduction.