This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Italian Trade Commission / The Extraordinary Italian Taste. All opinions are 100% mine.
Savory Parmesan Butternut Squash Cake is made with roasted butternut squash, fresh sage, Riviera Ligure PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Parmigiano Reggiano PDO. The quality of the ingredients of this fall inspired loaf make all the difference when it comes to taste and texture. Serve this savory squash cake as an appetizer with a drizzle of Riviera Ligure PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil or pair it with your favorite fall and winter soups!
Who says cake has to be sweet? To be honest, the roasted butternut squash that is pureed with a bit of honey actually does add a bit of sweetness to this savory bread. I debated whether I should call it a bread or a cake, but the texture was so similar to a pound cake that I went with cake. Let there be no mistake, though – this is a savory recipe.
Two ingredients that I think pair wonderfully with roasted butternut squash, in addition to sage of course, are Extra Virgin Olive Oil and parmesan cheese. Both Extra Virgin Olive Oil and parmesan cheese are ingredients that are widely used, and for good reason. But are you familiar with how drastic the differences are between imitations which are generally cheap and made to look Italian but really aren’t with actual authentic Italian made products? The difference is HUGE!
When it comes to ingredients like pasta, salumi, cheese and olive oil, choose only genuine products from Italy. You’ll end up with the best ingredients for the finest quality food. Throughout the world, Italian food enjoys a reputation of high quality thanks to its centuries-old traditions and dedication to quality and excellence. This is why they even have a certification process.
Italian Parmigiano Reggiano PDO:
I incorporate freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano PDO into the batter of this bread as well as on top. Parmigiano Reggiano PDO is produced with raw cow’s milk. It’s a cooked and un-pressed hard cheese, known as the “King of Cheeses” thanks to its qualities. Did you know Parmigiano Reggiano PDO is exclusively produced with local raw milk? The local part of the equation is quite important. This is a special milk, characterized by the unique and intense bacterial activity of the indigenous microbial flora. The entire production of Parmigiano Reggiano PDO is placed in the fertile countryside stretching from the Apennines to the river Po. The territory of production is within the Provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna (West of the Reno river) in Emilia-Romagna, and Mantua (East of the PO river) in Lombardy. Sometimes authentic Italian made ingredients come at a higher price point, but it’s worth every penny. Why? Not only because of the quality and taste, but because of the amount of work and time that goes into making these ingredients. For example, The dairy cows that produce the milk to be processed into Parmigiano Reggiano PDO follow a specific, costly diet: at least 50% of the forage used by the cattle must be produced by the same dairy farm, and at least 75% must come from the area of origin. After a lengthy process of turning milk into cheese, the cheese it then salted for 16-20 days and then aged for 12 month minimum, consumed mainly at 24-36 months of aging.
Riviera Ligure PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
Italy is the world leader in quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and there is simply no comparison between their Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the countless imitations out there. For this particular recipe, I used Riviera Ligure PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is a typical product of excellence from the Region of Liguria, in the North-West of Italy. In this area, olive trees are placed on terraces, following the structure of the territory. Produced in the varieties “Riviera dei Fiori”, “Riviera del Ponente Savonese” and “Riviera di Levante”, the names refer to the production area and to the different percentage of the specific varieties of olives being present in the olive groves. Riviera Ligure PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil is entirely produced (from the harvesting process to bottling) in the whole territory of Riviera dei Fiori, Riviera del Ponente Savonese, Riviera di Levante in the Region of Liguria, in the North-Western part of Italy. The varieties “Riviera dei Fiori” and “Riviera del Ponente Savonese” have a mature and fruity aroma and a fruity taste, with strong hints of sweetness. This paired incredibly well with the roasted butternut squash! Discover more
Savory Parmigiano Reggiano DOP Butternut Squash Cake
To roast the squash:
- 1 whole butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut in half with ends trimmed
- 2 tbsp authentic Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil (preferably PDO or PGI certified)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
To make the cake:
- 2/3 cup authentic Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil (preferably PDO or PGI certified)
- 20 sage leaves fresh
- 2 tbsp honey
- 5 large eggs slightly beaten
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup ITALIAN MADE Parmigiano Reggiano PDO grated
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 2 T ITALIAN MADE Parmigiano Reggiano PDO grated
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Poke holes in both sides of the squash and cover with 2 tablespoons of authentic Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Roast in preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until squash can easily be pierced with a fork. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- Heat about two tablespoons of authentic Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the fresh sage leaves and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the leaves to a paper towel lined plate and once the cooking oil cools, transfer to a measuring cup and add more authentic Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil to get 2/3 cup.
- In a food processor, combine half of the roasted squash with the olive oil, honey, and half of the fried sage leaves. Pulse until smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine squash puree with eggs and milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, grated ITALIAN MADE Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, adding in batches, and stir just to combine.
- Line a bread pan with parchment paper. Slice remaining half of roasted squash into long strips.
- Layer roasted squash with cake batter.
- Top with remaining 2 tablespoons of ITALIAN MADE Parmigiano Reggiano PDO and remaining fried sage leaves.
- Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 60 minutes. About 30-40 minutes into baking time, move cake lower in the oven if the top is getting too brown. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Allow cake to cool on wire rack in loaf pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool fully. Slice and serve with an additional drizzle of authentic Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil!