Mexican Casserole

1 1/2 tablespoons Unflavored or Chipotle Olive Oil

1 carrot, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 1-lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed in 1/2" cubes

1 tablespoon mild chili powder 

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 19-oz. can black or cranberry beans, rinsed and drained

1 14-oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a larg-ish nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add the carrots and onion; cooking until softened, stirring as needed, about 5 minutes.  Add the squash, chili powder, cumin and garlic; cook, stirring as needed, 4-5 minutes.  Stir in the beans, tomatoes, oregano, cloves, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring as needed until thickened, 18-20 minutes.  Taste to see if it needs a shot of hot sauce.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium saucepan, combine the cornmeal, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 cups of water; bring to a boil, whisking constantly until the mixture is very thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool slightly.  Stir in the cheese, bell pepper, cilantro and black pepper.

Transfer the squash mixture to a 9"-square baking dish; top with the cornmeal mixture.  Bake until the casserole is bubbling, about 40 minutes.

(Sometimes I don't bother to make the topping and just sprinkle cheese on the squash/bean mixture.  This recipe is very forgiving of variations.)