Butternut squash gratin

on October 14, 2009

Her love for gratin dishes started at age 15, when Alethea Harper spent a summer abroad in central France. Her host mother, Annie, was a “genius” in the kitchen and one of her dishes was Gratin Dauphinois, which pairs thinly sliced potatoes with cheese. In the U.S. this French dish is commonly known as scalloped potatoes or potatoes au gratin. Harper insists that her gratin could never be as good as her host mothers. “Somehow her potatoes would just melt in your mouth,” she said.

Harper’s modified version of the French delicacy uses butternut squash in lieu of potatos and was inspired by a recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Alethea Harper is the Coordinator for the Oakland Food Policy Council

Alethea Harper’s Butternut Squash Gratin with Onions and Sage

Ingredients:
¼ cup olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced onion
10 thyme sprigs (de-stemmed if you’d rather not pull the stems out of the finished product)
6 – 8 tbsp chopped sage (fresh)
Salt and freshly milled pepper
1 medium/large butternut squash, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ cup flour
¾ – 1 cup grated Gruyere
½ cup plus 2 tbsp heated whole milk
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or butter a 9”x13” baking dish or a 2-quart gratin dish.

Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, and sage and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes. Season with a couple pinches of salt and pepper to taste. Spread in the dish, return the skillet to medium heat, and add the remaining oil.

Toss the squash in the flour. Add it to the pan and cook until it begins to brown in places on both sides, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and plenty of pepper, and cook for 1 minute more. Layer the squash over the onions, cover with the cheese, then add the milk. Cover and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover, add the bread crumbs, and bake until the top is browned and the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes more.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
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