Friday, February 15, 2008

Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash and Onion Gratin (Κολοκύθα και Κρεμμύδια στο Φούρνο)

Snowy Day in Anchorage AlaskaIt's been snowing off and on for three days. Today the wind started up. I went outside to retrieve the garbage can lid and came back chilled to the bone.

For dinner, I wanted something solid and warming, so decided to roast butternut squash and turn it into a gratin. To balance the squash's sweetness, I added caramelized onions and nutty graviera cheese.

The result was exactly what I wanted. By the time dinner was over, I was warm and cozy and once again enjoying our snowy vistas.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Onion GratinRoasted Butternut Squash and Onion Gratin (Κολοκύθα και Κρεμμύδια στο Φούρνο)
Serves 4 - 6 as a main course or 8 - 12 as a side dish
The gratin may be baked in either a 9” square pan or a 9” x 13” pan, depending on whether you want a thicker gratin (use the square pan) or more area of cheese crust (use the rectangular pan). I cut up and roast the squash in olive oil before layering it with onions. I do this because caramelizing the squash significantly improves the gratin’s flavor. If you want to avoid olive oil, cut the squash in half, roast halves on parchment paper - cut-side down - at 375°F until tender, scoop out the flesh, and cut into 3/4” dice.

2 1/2 pound butternut squash (2 pounds cleaned; 6 cups cut in 3/4” dice)
4 cups diced onions (1/2” dice) (1 1/2 pounds)
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
4 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
4 tsp. minced fresh thyme
1 - 2 cups (4 ounces) grated graviera, comte, or gruyere cheese (1 cup for 9” pan, 2 cups for 9” x 13” pan)
1 cup half and half

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Roasting the Squash: Remove the skin of the squash with a knife or vegetable peeler, cut in half and remove the seeds, and cut into 3/4” dice. Put the squash on a rimmed baking sheet and toss it with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and 2 tbsp. olive oil. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the squash is browned on at least one side. Remove from the oven. (The recipe may be made ahead to this point.) Turn the oven heat down to 375°F.

Cooking the Onions: While the squash is cooking, sauté the onion, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil until it starts to brown. Add the garlic and Aleppo pepper and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat, and stir in the rosemary and thyme. (The recipe may be made ahead to this point.)

Layering the Gratin: In an oiled baking pan, spread out half the onions. Top with a layer of roasted squash, then a layer of the remaining onions, then a layer of the cheese. Pour the half and half evenly over the cheese. Bake at 375°F for 30 – 40 minutes or until the cheese has formed a nice brown crust. Serve immediately.


Peter M said...

I'm a fan of dishes that are savory and sweet, such as this one.

I keep seeing Aleppo pepper, time for me to get me some.

Anonymous said...

Avoid the olive oil?? Why would I want to do that? ;)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

The guy at our local Italian market was commenting on their dried Aleppo peppers....I turned them down...maybe I will have to go back and see if they are still there:D

Ivy said...

This is so good and even better that nothing will be wasted.

Cakelaw said...

One word Laurie - Yum!

Suganya said...

This sounds like lasagna without the pasta. I know this will taste good. Great recipe, Laurie.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm currently stocking up on your fantastic recipes for our up coming winter (which are very mild compared to say the least). Gratin is great and this is a lovely take on it.

Laurie Constantino said...

Peter M, I agree about savory and sweet - until I figured it out, I didn't enjoy winter squash and sweet potatoes because they were too sweet for me. Now I love them both. As for Aleppo pepper, I don't like to cook without it - it enhances flavor without making things super spicy.

Maryann - you wouldn't and neither would I!

Val, I do think you should try them - like I said to Peter, I find them indispensible.

Ivy, I definitely HOPE nothing will be wasted. We'll see.

Gaye, exactly!

Suganya, I hadn't thought about it that way, but you're right. Glad you liked it!

Peter G, it's not the cold of winter that gets to me - it's the dark. Only 4 hours of daylight on the soltice but, thank God, we are now gaining daylight every day. I laughed at your note because I have been stockpiling your recipes to make next summer...

Cheryl said...

Just catching up...Love the picture of the snow! You have a lot of snow! I think that it's beautiful.
This recipe also sounds perfectly comforting.

ThreeTastes said...

WOW -- guess I can't whine about the "cold" morning we had here yesterday (a frigid 66F). ; P
Dad's making us a squash (kabocha) soup tonight but we'll have to try this gratin soon, too.

Laurie Constantino said...

Cheryl, the snow is beautiful. It just stays a little too long for me...

Manju, you can complain all you want - it's my choice to live with our weather. No matter how much I complain, I love living in Alaska. Kabocha soup sounds grand - and so nice of your dad to make it.