Today’s post is going to be brief! There’s been a line-up of epic posts recently – all good things mind you, but it’s time for something short and sweet.
This butternut squash gratin is just that: uncomplicated, yet sophisticated in an understated way. We enjoyed it as one of our side dishes this past weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving, and here’s the crazy part: my kids ate it and asked for seconds. I know !
It’s not much to look at, but this autumnal casserole was the only dish that got completely polished off during our Thanksgiving feast. The squash! Talk about a testament to how good this gratin really is when it goes up against the likes of perfect mashed potatoes and wins.
No one turned down the gratin and it wasn’t just the children who were having seconds.
What’s the appeal?
From the diner’s perspective, it is light and fluffy, admittedly an admirable quality in a holiday meal, and the Parmesan seems to mellow out the strong ‘squashy’ flavor that seems to repel most kids, mine included. The early autumnal flavor of the butternut does come through, don’t get me wrong, but in the very best of ways.
From the cook’s viewpoint, this gratin is quick and easy, requires only basic pantry ingredients, and lends itself well to planning ahead. The squash can be chopped, cooked, cooled and stored the day before, leaving only assembly and baking on the big day. Alternatively, the gratin can be assembled in full, partially baked, cooled and stored; then 20 minutes before dinner, pop it in the oven to warm through and melt the cheese.
Butternut Squash Gratin
- 3 cups butternut squash, in ¾ inch chunks
- 1 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons mayo
- 2/3 cup Parmesan, grated (or strong cheddar)
- 1/3 cup Panko (or breadcrumbs)
- Pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch baking dish, round or square.
- In a medium pot, cover squash with cold water, place a lid on top and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling, reduce heat so that the water just simmers and cook squash for about 15 min. or until tender. Rinse under cold water; drain. (Do-Ahead: at this point the squash can be stored for up to two days until you are ready to assemble the gratin.)
- Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan and add onions. Sauté on medium heat, stirring often, until softened. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a medium bowl, beat egg, salt and mayonnaise together. Add 1/3 cup of Parmesan, panko, sautéed onion and squash and fold together gently to combine. Season with pepper and more salt, if needed.
- Spoon in to prepared baking dish and top with remaining 1/3 cup of cheese. Bake 1 hour or until heated through and cheese is slightly browned. Serve hot.
Recipe serves up to 8 people.
Do-Ahead: Remove gratin from oven after 30 minutes and cool completely. Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to one day. To serve: remove plastic wrap and place in hot oven. Bake for about 20 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.
Is winter squash a favorite at your dinner table?