The Goddess has been thinking a bit about Thanksgiving. She has a lot to be thankful for, but packing up the house isn’t high on the list. She’s doing it way too slowly, but it’s going. But, I digress…what else is new?Anyway, The Goddess isn’t a big fan of turkey; she would much rather have pork. But she loves her side dishes. For her, that’s where the flavor is, and this is a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. The Goddess loves winter squash and she loves this dish. Seriously, what’s not to love…squash, onions, garlic, herbs and cheese? She doesn’t much care how winter squash is fixed or what type it is; it’s just damn good. This dish can be eaten stand-alone or as a side. It’s the perfect vegetarian dish for Thanksgiving dinner. Perfect…yes, that’s it!
This is sort of a basic recipe, but there are a million, okay maybe not a million, but at least 10 variations-on-a-theme, like the bleu cheese shown here. The basic dish here, consists of squash, onions, garlic, sun-dried tomato bits, cheeses and heavy cream or broth (or both). So, as you can see, I’ve already taken some liberties here.
Winter Squash au Gratin Supreme
- 1 large butternut or buttercup squash, cubed (about 6-8 cups)
- Olive oil
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms (can be a mixture)
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1/2 cup apple cider or white wine
- 6-10 sun-dried tomatoes, finely minced
- 8-12 cloves roasted garlic, mashed with a fork (from the Garlic Confit)
- 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage)
- 2 teaspoons corn starch (optional)
- 3-4 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
- 8 ounces fontina cheese, coarsely shredded
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, pinched into small bits
- 1/3-1/2 cup shredded parmesan
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth (or part heavy cream)
In a bowl, toss the squash cubes with 1-2 tablespoons of oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a skillet, over medium heat, sauté the mushrooms in some oil until slightly browned. Remove and set aside. Add some additional oil to the skillet and sauté the onions, until softened and slightly browned. Deglaze the pan with the wine or cider; continue to cook until the liquid is almost evaporated. Remove from the heat and add the sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, herbs and the reserved mushrooms.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Oil a 8-cup casserole dish. Place half the squash cubes in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place two-thirds of the onion/mushroom mixture over the squash, sprinkle evenly with the cornstarch, and top with half the bleu cheese and half the fontina. Top with the remaining squash, pressing down to compact it as much as possible. Top with the remaining onion mixture. Sprinkle with the fresh mozzarella pieces, the remaining bleu and fontina cheeses and the parmesan. Carefully pour 1 cup of the liquid over the mixture. Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender and the top is browned. Remove from the oven, set aside for at least 15 minutes. The mixture will settle slightly. This can be eaten now, at warm room temperature, or chilled and reheated.
Winter Squash au Gratin Supreme Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
That’s what I did here. But, you can add the following:
- sliced apples with the onions, omit the herbs and sun-dried tomatoes. Add a dusting of cinnamon, allspice and use Swiss cheese.
- thinly sliced fresh fennel bulb sautéed with the onion, (omit the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes) use only white wine and add some grated orange zest; use only chopped, fresh basil for the herbs.
- Use only squash and onions, top with shredded cheddar and strips of bacon
- Use only squash and onions, dried cranberries, dates and/or dried apricots and top with buttered panko crumbs combined with coarsely chopped pecans.
You get the idea. There are many, many more options, but these are the ones I can think of at the moment. Of course, you can just stick with squash, cheeses and heavy cream and life will be delicious. Remember that squash, because it’s of its starchiness, will require more salt than you might think. Now, back to packing those damn books. Where’s another box?