Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Butternut Squash and Spinach Gratin

Yay, fall is here! This is our favorite time of year, because it denotes the beginning of cool weather foods. From stews to braised meat to all things pumpkin – this is such a special season!

Epicurious had some top autumn recipes on their site, and I found this one for Butternut Squash and Spinach Gratin which looked wonderful and completely unlike anything I’ve ever made!

First, fine dice a small onion and a few cloves of garlic and sweat them out over lowish heat in 3 tbs butter for about 8 minutes... do not let them burn! While that is going, peel 2 butternut squash, chop the neck off from the belly. I scooped out the seeds from the "belly", but in the end, I only needed the "necks" of the squash. I cut the necks in half lengthwise and tried to use this slicer we had, but that really didn’t work, so M just sharpened the Santuko knife for me, and I sliced them crosswise no thicker than 1/8". Just be careful of your fingers!

Then I folded the onion/garlic/butter mixture into 30 ounces of thawed frozen spinach (which we had thoroughly dried via hand-squeezing with paper towels.) Also going into the mix was 1.5 tsps salt, 3/4 tsp black pepper, rounded 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1 cup of heavy cream.

Now it’s time to contruct! I sprayed some Pam on my shallow ceramic 9 x 13 baking dish (epicurious says not to use glass, although I’m not sure why?). Then layer squash, spinach mixture a sprinkling of grated Parmesan (this is another deviation from the original recipe), then repeat, ending with squash and some more cheese. Wax or parchment paper on top and then throw it into the top third of your 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Then remove paper and put in for 12 more minutes.

When we took the dish out to remove the paper, the cheese on top was all stuck to the paper and I was out of Parm, so I threw some Jack cheese on top. Perhaps tenting foil instead would have prevented this outcome.

Overall, this dish was AMAZING…the only thing different next time would be a bit more salt and perhaps some crushed red pepper. The funny thing is how much the butternut squash looked like peaches the way I cut them! Each time I took a bite, I expected some sweet juicy fruit, but instead got a slightly sweet earthy flavor – food trickery!

1 comment:

Trevor said...

I've never tried that but it looks good either way. I may have to whip some up.