I make a mean potato gratin, but I will tilt my hat to the ingredients more than I will my cooking skill. Its not hard to make a delicious dish when you have cheese, cream, potatoes and then some more cheese. This summer we had a backyard full of butternut squash. Beware if you choose to grow it – as it will take OVER your lawn. It is a blessing for me though since it kept the grass from growing meaning less yard work and lots of yummy yummy squash. Butternut squash is one of my favorite veggies and this gratin was born from the question I posed while staring at the buckets of it in my basement: “if gratin is good w/ potatoes – is it just as yummy with squash’? The answer – IT IS. Its actually BETTER in my opinion.
I used the exact same process as I did with my potato gratin, but instead I used squash and added sage to balance the sweetness of the roasted squash. It added a sweetness and depth to the dish that you can’t get with just potatoes. Plus the bright orange is just so beautiful. Its a perfect dish for any parties or hosting you do this winter.
I made this for Thanksgiving at my in-laws house in Omaha. It was a HIT! I also made one for e close friend who injured her shoulder and couldn’t cook this holiday, apparently they loved it as well – so you’ve got a winning dish here. Enjoy!
- Two medium sized butternut squash – peeled, deseeded and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 2 fennel bulbs – thinly sliced and core removed
- 1 yellow onion – thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp dried rubbed sage
- 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
- 1 cup shredded gouda cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Butter the bottom and sides of a larger baking dish. 9×13 should work and you can always use two smaller pans if needed
- Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the core and thinly slice the bulbs crosswise. Keep a few of the fennel fronts, the pretty green feathery leaves – for garnish.
- Melt butter and oil in large saute pan on medium heat
- Add in fennel, onion garlic, salt & pepper. Cook for 15 minutes stirring often until all items are very soft and starting to caramelize. Turn off heat and remove from burner.
- Put squash into a large bowl
- To the squash in the bowl, add cream, milk, salt, pepper, 3/4 cup of gruyere and 3/4 cup of gouda cheese. Stir well to combine.
- Next add in the fennel, onion, garlic mixture to the bowl and mix all again. Sprinkle again with a pinch more salt and pepper.
- Pour mixture into the baking pan(s).
- Press squash mix down into the pan, don’t be forceful, the point is really to smoosh down/arrange so they are in level rows as much as possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect by any means.
- Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup gruyere and 1/4 cup gouda on top
- Place in oven for 45 minutes. At the 45 minute mark check squash with a knife – if you can insert easily w/ no ‘crunch’ or stiffness. The knife should insert easily into the squash but it shouldn’t be mushy. If still crunchy, let cook another 10 minutes and check again. Repeat until the dish is cooked through.
- The top of the squash should be a crispy golden brown cheese layer, if its not crispy enough – turn the broiler on low and set timer for 2-3 minutes. Keep a close eye so it doesn’t burn!