We know what we are getting when we order a dish that is cooked “au gratin.” Gratin, derived from the French language, indicates a light crust, usually of breadcrumbs or cheese or both, over a dish that has been baked in the oven. It indicates pure goodness to me. Potatoes au gratin….yes, please! A few years ago I hosted a dinner party for my parents 40th wedding anniversary and served filet with a side of blue cheese potatoes au gratin. Gratins are decadent indeed!
My mother-in-law introduced this Butternut Squash Gratin to us a few years ago. My sister-in-law and I quickly fell in love with it. She has made it much more than I have and has proven it can stand up to adaptations if you don’t have everything you need in the house — white or yellow onions stand in for leeks, swiss for gruyere. But the rosemary’s a must! I can take absolutely zero credit for this recipe other than making the effort to share it with you! I wanted to post it during this season because it is a great addition to any fall meal — it can stand in for potatoes or even be a replacement for that overly sweet brown sugary sweet potato casserole that inevitable shows up on every Thanksgiving table.
Butternut squash is so sweet and silky to begin with but when you add a little cream and some freshly grated gruyere, you’ve created something that tastes delicious and looks beautiful as well. Add a generous amount of earthy rosemary and you’ve got a delicious dish full of flavor (and even full of vitamins!).
Butternut Squash Gratin (Serves 8-10)
1 1/2-2 lbs butternut squash, cut in 1 inch chunks
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced (soak in ice water to release the dirt)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil (I’d choose butter if possible)
1 1/2- 2 Tbsp garlic, diced
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1 cup of gruyere cheese, shredded
Chop butternut squash and place in dutch oven or saute pan with 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil together with leeks and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Transfer into buttered or sprayed baking dish. In same dutch oven or saute pan, simmer half-and-half with salt pepper and rosemary for 4-5 minutes over medium heat stirring constantly. Immediately pour half-and-half mixture over squash and add cheese to the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and brown on top. Garnish with fresh chopped rosemary.
Recipe from Sherry Barger