October 06, 2011

Thanksgiving Week Day 5 - Butternut Squash Gratin

butternut squash gratinFor Day 5 of Thanksgiving Week I wanted to choose a side dish recipe that was a little more exciting than mashed potatoes (although I do love mashed potatoes) but still easy enough to manage as part of a big meal.

I initially chose a recipe for honey and herb roasted root vegetables from Cooking Light. I shopped, chopped, cooked, and photographed before tasting and deciding that the recipe just wasn't special enough to share for Thanksgiving Week. It was still good, just a little boring.

I then had a lot of pressure to choose a really good recipe to share instead, and decided to go with a Bon Appetit recipe for a butternut squash gratin, which got lots of really good reviews on Epicurious. One bite in, I knew I'd made a good choice this time - whereas I wouldn't care if I ever ate the root vegetables again, this gratin was definitely something I would (and did) go back for seconds of.

I was a bit worried about the type of cheese that the recipe called for, as I'd never paired squash and cheddar together, but the caramelized onions really brought everything together in an unexpected but delicious way. The only bad part about this recipe was that it was hard to photograph, and I hate when really tasty dishes don't come across that way in pictures. But trust me, underneath that pile of messy breadcrumbs is some of the most flavourful squash I've ever tasted! I think the chicken broth helped infuse a unique flavour to the squash that I really liked, but you could easily use vegetable broth to make this dish vegetarian.

There are only 2 days of Thanksgiving Week left and I've saved the best for last - the main dish and the dessert - so be sure to come back for the recipes!

butternut squash gratinButternut Squash Gratin with Rosemary Breadcrumbs

Adapted from Bon Appetit, as seen on Epicurious

Serves 8 - 10

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups thinly sliced onions
2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1.5 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from soft white bread (I used storebought, panko would also work)
2 cups (packed) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13x9x2 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the chopped squash, stir and sauté another 4 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar, salt, and pepper over the vegetables and sauté until onions and squash begin to caramelize, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Spread the squash-onion mixture in the prepared baking dish. Pour the chicken broth over the mixture, cover tightly with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

*The above steps can all be done 1 day ahead. Just cool the mixture after baking, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat the next day in a 350°F oven until heated through, about 10 minutes, then proceed with the rest of the directions.

Increase oven temperature to 400°F. Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, rosemary and thyme in a large bowl, then sprinkle evenly over gratin. Bake uncovered until top is golden brown and crisp, about 25-30 minutes.

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For other Thanksgiving side dish ideas, check out these links:

Cider glazed roots with cinnamon walnuts from Eating Well
Maple roasted sweet potatoes from Eating Well
Crispy potato roast from The Bitten Word
Potato gratin with rosemary crust from The Bitten Word
Oven roasted garlic brussel sprouts from Sweet Pea's Kitchen
Mashed sweet potatoes from All Recipes

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