Today, we are preparing our butternut squash two ways: roasted and as a gratin. Which is my favorite? Oh, I could no more choose between these than I could choose between my children. Well, probably I could, because as much as I love squash I value my children much, much more, so just ignore that, ok?
|To prepare the squash for either recipe, cut the ends away from the squash, stand it on end, and slice it in half lengthwise.|
|It takes a little oomph. Use a heavy, sharp knife. You may need to rock it back and forth as you push down. Just think — this effort means you can have another two spoonsful of gratin!|
|Now, get a regular teaspoon from your silverware drawer and use it to remove the seeds and stringy membranes from the cavity. I sort of slice all around the cavity with the edge of my spoon…|
|…and scoop underneath, scraping as necessary, to get it all out. Discard this stuff. Yes, you could probably roast the seeds like pumpkin seeds, but this isn’t Martha Stewart and we don’t have time today.|
|Flip each half over cut-side-down and cut crosswise into 1/2″ thick slices.|
Now you have to choose which recipe you will make. Are you roasting or gratineeing?
First, the simplest — roasted squash:
|Slide the pan into a preheated 450 degree oven, center rack, for about 15 minutes.|
|Poke a slice with a fork to check for tenderness. Eat right away (the flesh will separate easily from the peel) or let the slices cool. Then you can peel and dice them and use them in all kinds of ways — as a stir-in for risotto or a wonderful salad or to toss with pasta or probably a dozen other applications. Another kitchen asset is born!|
Roasted Butternut Squash
1 medium butternut squash
2 T. oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place rack in lowest position.
2. To prepare the squash, cut the ends away from the squash, stand it on end, and slice it in half lengthwise with a large, sharp knife. Remove the seeds and stringy membranes from the cavity with an ordinary teaspoon. Flip each half over cut-side-down and cut crosswise into 1/2″ thick slices.
3. Spread the squash in a single layer on a greased, optionally foil-lined, shallow-sided baking sheet. Drizzle the slices with a couple of tablespoons of oil — olive or canola — and smear it over the cut surfaces with clean fingers. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Roast for about 15 minutes or until tender and lightly browned on the bottom. You can flip them halfway through the cooking, but I rarely do.
Notes: This is such a flexible recipe. Use a lower temperature and longer time if you have something else that needs to share the oven. Drizzle the squash with honey or maple syrup for a sweet result. You can add a pinch or two of dried herbs like thyme or rosemary, if you like. You can peel and/or cube the slices before roasting.
And then the uses for the resulting wonderfulness! Risotto, salads, pasta add-in, mashed and stuffed into ravioli – life is good with a bowl of roasted squash in the refrigerator.
Now, onto Butternut Squash au Gratin, which is the choice you ought to make when you find yourself in possession of some heavy cream begging to be used:
|Cut the peeled slices into 1/2″ cubes.|
|Did you really need this photo? I expect you could have worked out the procedure, but I have it, so there you go.|
Butternut Squash Gratin
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
1 T. butter
1 medium onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
½ c. heavy cream, or more as desired
½ c. grated Gruyere cheese*
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees if finishing the dish immediately.
2. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat; add the onion and sauté a few minutes until tender but not browned. Add the squash and salt and pepper to taste (about ½ t. salt) and stir to combine. Turn into a greased 1 ½ — 2 qt. shallow casserole or gratin dish. Pour cream over the vegetables. One-half cup will produce a fairly dry dish. Add more cream to come nearly to the top level of the vegetables for a richer, saucier result. Top evenly with the cheese. Make ahead: At this point, the dish can be covered with plastic wrap and chilled until ready to bake, up to a few days, I imagine.
3. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the squash is tender when poked with a fork and the cream is bubbly and thickened. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving. The sauce will thicken further on standing.