Butternut squash gratin is a really easy side dish, teeming with fontina cheese, rosemary and nutmeg. As it bakes the smells bring Thanksgiving instantly to mind, but it is a great everyday accompaniment to chicken or beef.
It wouldn’t be October if there weren’t some squash side dishes mixed in with the tons of wonderful main dishes of the season. The farmers’ market is all about apples and squash. This past weekend was no exception with loads of butternut, acorn, spaghetti and hubbard squash. And, of course, pumpkins!
I’ve been making this butternut squash gratin forever, it seems. I really can’t remember when I didn’t make it. It is so creamy and cheesy and the combination of fresh rosemary and grated nutmeg balance off each other beautifully.
And it’s easy!
Begin by peeling the squash. You can use a sturdy vegetable peeler but I find if you cut the bottom stem of the squash to make it stable, a sharp knife makes quick work of the peeling. Just be careful not to cut in too deep so you don’t lose any of the beautiful flesh inside. Then cut in half and slice into thin slices.
I don’t use the part with the seeds only because the shape of the slices are different and I like to keep as uniform as possible. But that part makes great soup or pasta sauce.
The slices need to be parboiled so that they cook evenly in the oven. A few minutes in boiling water then drained and cooled with cold tap water does the trick. Make sure to dry the slices before assembling so no added moisture is introduced and you can get a creamy sauce instead of a watered down one.
Arrange the slices in a baking dish in a single layer and then pour some warm cream, that you prepare by adding fresh rosemary, nutmeg, salt and pepper, over the top.
Add another layer of squash slices and the remaining cream and then top the whole thing with a little butter…
and a lot of fontina cheese.
Sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top and bake it for half an hour and then serve it piping hot. It pairs beautifully with meatloaf and roasted chicken.
Butternut Squash Gratin
- oven safe baking dish
- large pot
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves removed from the stem
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup fontina cheese grated
- 2 tbsp butter
- nutmeg for top
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Peel squash then separate the seed end from the neck. Keep the seed end for another use. Slice the neck into 1/4" slices.
- Add slices to cold water with salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 mintues. Drain and run cold water over the sliced squash.
- Lay the slices out onto a clean towel. Use another clean towel to pat the slices dry.
- Meanwhile, heat cream, rosemary, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Do not boil.
- Begin laying the slices in the baking dish, overlapping slightly in a shingling method to create the first layer.
- Pour 1/2 the cream mixture onto the first layeer. Repeat laying the squash slices to create a seocnd layer. Pour remaining cream over the top.
- Cut the 2 tbsp of butter into three thin slices and place down the center of the gratin.
- Top with cheese and sprinkle additional nutmeg over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes until bubbling around all sides. If the top needs additional browning, turn the broiler on for a couple of minutes just long enough to brown the top.
- Serve piping hot right from the oven.