I always thought making a gratin was a time-consuming affair because you have to make a white sauce. But guess what! No white sauce here! The starch in the squash thickens the cream all by itself. You will be amazed at how quickly this comes together. I made this on a weeknight, and while it was in the oven, I made a green salad. Done!
This recipe is adapted from the fabulous Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food. Grating the squash is the hardest thing about this, and it’s not that hard. It really helps to have a food processor with a grating blade, and to buy the butternut squash already peeled and cubed so you can feed the cubes right into the food processor tube thingy. But if you don’t have a food processor, you can still make this. Just start with a whole squash (because you can’t really hand-grate those little cubes… right). The original recipe says to peel the squash (I have seen a vegetable peeler used for this, but haven’t tried it myself), remove the seeds, and grate it on a box grater – supposedly this prep still fits within 30 minutes. I don’t know, I feel like that would take me longer but I’m not the speediest food prepster, so go for it – just watch out for your fingers!
Another thing I did differently from the original recipe: it called for a 2 to 2 1/2 lb. squash. I only had 1 lb. of butternut cubes so I added a can of white beans to the gratin. It worked beautifully and also includes more protein to make this a vegetarian main course if you like!
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 lb. butternut squash, grated (I got the already-cubed kind and grated it with the food processor, but you can also use a box grater)
- 1 15 oz. can white beans, such as cannellini
- 3 sprigs fresh sage, minced (if you have leftover, fry 'em in a little olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt for a garnish)
- 2 T. olive oil
- Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1 c. half-and-half or veggie broth
- 1 c. sliced almonds (or other chopped or sliced nuts you like, just not peanuts)
- 1 c. (4 oz.) grated Parmesan
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray your casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- In a large mixing bowl (or you can do this right in the casserole), mix the grated squash, white beans, olive oil, minced sage, and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Spread in an even layer. Pour the half-and-half or broth evenly over the top.
- Cover with foil and bake until the squash is tender and the cream/broth is bubbly and thick (mine took about 30 minutes). Remove from oven, remove foil, and sprinkle with Parmesan, then sliced nuts. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes, uncovered, until top is lightly browned. Let cool a few minutes before serving.
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