I love winter squashes, but my love for them is somewhat conditional. I love them only when savoried-up, spiced and roasted. The more desserty applications do nothing for me—the squash is sweet enough to start with, so I want salt and spice and contrast. Maple syrup is for pancakes.
The problem has been that I’ve been running out of new ways to gussy up roasted winter squash. My favorite may always be this panzanella with squash and brussels sprouts, or maybe this salad with chickpeas and tahini, or maybe this spicy application. (I confess, I’m terrible at picking favorites. I can’t even pick a favorite color, let alone a favorite book or winter squash recipe.)
But now there’s a new entry in my roasted winter squash recipe book. This gratin is as warm and comforting as the other squash recipes, but it adds a lush richness with goat cheese and cream. It would be a wonderful side dish for Thanksgiving—or, really, for any meal. Rather, any meal where you have some kind of bread to scoop up the gorgeousness that is the cream, goat cheese, leek, and hazelnut goo you’ll find on your plate once you’ve eaten all your squash.
Butternut squash gratin with goat cheese and hazelnuts
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes
2 leeks, sliced and rinsed (white and pale green parts only)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or sage [the original recipe called for sage, but I subbed rosemary and it was perfect]
3 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F.
On large baking sheet, toss squash cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out cubes on sheet; roast until just beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium-low heat. Add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender but not brown, about 15 minutes.
Grease 9-inch square baking dish with oil. Sprinkle leeks over bottom of dish, then layer with half the cheese, half the rosemary, and half the squash. Repeat layering with leeks, cheese, rosemary, and squash.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour half and half evenly over gratin. Sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts. Bake uncovered until gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes.