If there’s one thing that you must make for Thanksgiving dinner this year, or any dinner this fall for that matter, it is this butternut squash gratin. This isn’t just any butternut squash gratin that I’m insisting you make. This gratin has sweet and fluffy cubes of butternut squash paired with velvety sauteed leeks, creamy goat cheese, and crunchy hazelnuts. Interesting combination, yes. But oh so good.
This was one of the side dishes that I served at my dinner party and it was definitely the star of the night. The great thing about making this side dish for a dinner party or a holiday like Thanksgiving is that it can be prepared and assembled up to a day in advance. On the day of, all that needs to be done is adding the cream and hazelnuts, and throwing it in the oven. Another reason it would be perfect for Thanksgiving: it makes great leftovers! This makes a big portion and even with the pretty big dent the 6 of us put in it, I had plenty leftover. Since I have had this for dinner the past three nights, I can personally attest that it would be acceptable for Thanksgiving leftovers which, we all know, is the best part of Thanksgiving.
Butternut Squash Gratin with Leeks, Goat Cheese, and Hazelnuts
yields 8-10 servings
3 1/2 pounds butternut squash (I had 2 medium-large butternut squash), peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt, for seasoning
3 tbsp butter
3 leeks, white and pale green parts sliced
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh sage
5.5 oz log soft fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup half-and-half*
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked and coarsley chopped**
*The original recipe uses 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, but I subbed 1/2 cup of half-and-half to cut down on the fat
**Tutorial on how to toast and husk hazelnuts here
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place peeled and chopped butternut squash on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss with spoon (or hands!) to distribute olive oil. Season with kosher salt (about 1 tsp). Roast until just tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 35-40 minutes.
While squash is roasting, make the leeks. After you cut the leeks into slices, put them in a large bowl and fill with water. Stir them around with your hands to loosen them up and get all of the dirt off of them. Transfer them to a strainer and run water over them for about 30 seconds. Then, melt 3 tbsp buter in medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced leeks, sage, and season with salt and pepper. Saute until tender, but not brown, about 15 minutes.
After butternut squash is done, the gratin is ready to be assembled. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 9×13″ baking dish with cooking spray, or coat with butter. Spread half of the leek mixture over the bottom of the baking dish. Then add half of squash and half of cheese. Repeat layering with leeks, then squash, then cheese. At this point, the gratin can be covered and chilled to be baked the next day.
When ready to bake, pour cream and half-and-half evenly over the gratin. Sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts and bake until the gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes. If previously chilled, bake 40 minutes.
This was shared on Bobbi’s Kozi Kitchen’s Manic Monday!