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!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Butternut Squash Gratin

Winter cold calls for comfort food, and this simple baked squash dish brings warmth to the table. Instead of heavy cream or regular milk, here I opted for evaporated milk, which I think lends its own creaminess without being too heavy—not to mention a deliciously rich, sweet flavor. 

Tip: Look for a squash with a smaller, rounded, seed end and a longer, thicker, flesh end. The long end is solid “meat,” while the round end contains the seeds and is partially hollow. For easy preparation, start by cutting off the round end and work with the two pieces separately. To ensure even layering in the dish—and quicker baking—you want to cut the butternut as thinly as you can.

Here’s an easy way to do it:

Squash with large "meat" end
Trim the ends and stand the long end upright to cut off the rind 
Slice crosswise very thinly 
Cut the round end in half and remove the seeds
Cut each half into thin slices
Serves 4

  • olive oil for oiling dish, plus 1 tbsp
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small-medium butternut squash (about 2-1/4 lbs), peeled, seeded, and cut into very thin slices (about 1/8-inch thick)
  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup fine fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Lightly oil an 8 X 8-inch baking dish. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil, swirling to coat. Add the onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft, 5-6 minutes.
  3. Layer half the squash slices, overlapping edges, in the dish and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread half the onion mixture on top. Repeat with the remaining squash and onion mixture. 
  4. Pour the evaporated milk in the dish (it should come close to the top of the ingredients). Combine the breadcrumbs and cheese and sprinkle on top. 
Garlic and Onion
Layer the Squash 
Top with Onion Mixture
Milk Added
Cheese and Breadcrumb Topping
  1. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake until the squash is tender, 35-40 minutes.
  2. Uncover the dish and increase the oven temperature to 425°F. Bake until the milk is reduced and thickened and the breadcrumbs and cheese are browned in spots, 12-15 minutes.

After Initial Baking
Baked Gratin
Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Butternut Squash Gratin

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