Autumn is here! Which means lots of lovely dishes with fall produce, including things like butternut squash.
This gratin recipe is pretty simple and lets the pure flavors of the squash and sweet onion come through. It’s not only veggie but vegan if you omit the sprinkle of parmesan cheese at the end. You’ll need to allow a little over an hour to chop, cook, then bake.
Let’s start with the ingredients: 6 tablespoons of olive oil; 1/4 cup of panko crumbs; 2 large sweet onions (Vidalia or Spanish are great); 2 1/2 pounds of chopped butternut squash (I used pre-chopped from my grocery, but you’d probably need to buy two squashes if you’re chopping at home); 2 cloves of fresh garlic, pressed; 4 teaspoons of ground or chopped fresh sage; parsley; 2 to 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese; salt and pepper to taste.
Start by pan-toasting the panko. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high, then add one tablespoon of olive oil and the panko crumbs.
(I love this measuring spoon set! Our daughter-in-law gave it to me as a birthday gift!) Anyway, you’ll need to stir the oil and panko constantly because it’ll toast rapidly, within 60 to 90 seconds.
And voilà, nice golden brown crumbs!
Peel and rinse the onions, then slice thinly.
Add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan and heat until it begins to shimmer, then add the onions.
Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper (or to taste), then sauté for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions have completely softened.
Then add 2 tablespoons of water and 2 teaspoons of sage, and cook until the onions have caramelized and the water evaporated, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven at this point to 425 degrees, Fahrenheit. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray (or lightly rub with shortening) and set aside.
Chop the butternut squash into 1/4-inch thick slices. Since I used pre-chopped from the grocery, the pieces were all different shapes and sizes, but that gave the final product a nice country-style look. For a more elegant dish, slice the whole squashes yourself so that the pieces are more uniform.
Toss the squash lightly with olive oil, 2 more teaspoons of sage, and salt and pepper to taste. I tossed it in the sauté pan since it already had olive oil in it.
Add the squash to the baking pan, then add a layer of onions.
Add another layer of squash and top with a final layer of onions. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and take off the foil, then sprinkle with the panko crumbs, parsley, and (optional!) parmesan cheese. Return to the oven and bake another 5 minutes.
We combined this tonight with broiled salmon and baby potatoes. For our wine, we served a 2014 King Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc, with lovely dark blueberry notes and just the right amount of bright acidic uplift. Great combo.