Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash and Leek Strata

Autumn time is squash time, and roasting these beautiful fall beauties is one of the best ways to enjoy them. This simple vegetarian strata is both flavorful and hearty—a little cheesy too. I added leeks to provide a little earthy, savory, oniony flavor. Sweet butternut, savory leek, creamy Gruyere—easy, homey, and very autumn.

Tip: Cut the butternut squash into three pieces to make peeling and dicing easier.

Another tip: Leeks can hide a lot of dirt among their inner layers, so it's a good idea to expose as much of the inside as possible to rinse it clean. The easiest way to do that is to trim the leek (you use only the white and light green parts), then cut it crosswise to make more manageable pieces before cutting them lengthwise to expose the layers. Rinse the pieces, fanning out the layers (like the pages of a book), and you're ready to go.

Choose small leeks 
Trim to white and light green parts
Cut crosswise then lengthwise to clean
Serves 4

  • olive oil, for oiling dish, plus more for drizzling
  • 6 oz whole-wheat (or white) sourdough bread cubes (about 3/4-inch pieces)
  • 12 oz peeled butternut squash cubes (about 3/4-inch pieces)
  • 2 small leeks (white and light green parts only), cut crosswise in half, each half cut lengthwise in half, then thinly sliced
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped sage
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
Bread Pieces
Prepared Squash
Prepared Leeks
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly oil an 8 X 8-inch baking dish. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread the bread cubes on the baking sheet and place in the oven. Toast until lightly browned, 9-10 minutes. Transfer the bread cubes to a large bowl.
  3. Spread the squash cubes on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, tossing to combine. Place in the oven and roast until beginning to soften, 15 minutes. Add the leek to the pan and stir with the squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and continue roasting until tender and lightly browned, 10 minutes. Transfer the squash and leek to the bowl with the bread cubes. 
Ready to Toast 
Toasted Bread
Squash Ready to Roast
After 15 Minutes
Leeks Added
Roasted Squash and Leeks
Squash-Bread Mixture
  1. In another bowl, combine the eggs, garlic, milk, and sage and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the bread mixture and stir lightly to combine.
  2. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and scatter cheese on top. Bake until the strata is creamy and the cheese is browned, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes.
Egg Mixture
Egg Mixture Added to Bread Mixture 
Ready for Cheese
Ready to Bake
Baked Strata
Divide the strata among 4 bowls and serve hot.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Leek Strata

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