Thursday, November 20, 2008

Butternut Squash, Potato & Mushroom Gratin

I finished off my last box of farmer’s market tomatoes last week. It’s finally time to move on to root vegetables. I’ve been avoiding this moment, you see. Potatoes and butternut squash are available year-round in Wisconsin, while tomatoes are a seasonal, summery delicacy. Still, the times are a-changin'. This week it snowed and the temperatures dropped into the low 30s. The thermostat in my condo is stuck on 63. Winter’s here.

Slow-roasting is a great way to warm up the house (watch the thermostat jump past 68), and this recipe is a great way to cook potatoes and hard squash. This is based on Paula Wolfert’s potato and butternut squash pie, as featured and duly praised by the Wednesday Chef. Naturally, I tweaked the recipe.

Method:

Peel a medium butternut squash and 2 large potatoes. Slice into thin rounds (about 1/8 inch), and place in a large bowl. Preheat the oven to 350. Finely mince a couple of garlic cloves and a handful of parsley leaves. Add to bowl.

Mix in 4 oz. of some kind of cheese, shredded or diced. Wolfert’s recipe calls for an intricate mix of ricotta and hard sheep milk’s cheese, but, come on, nearly any kind of cheese will taste good with roasted butternut squash and potatoes. I’ve made this with ricotta and provolone, but I’ve also used havarti and blue cheese—trust me, it’s all good.

Mix the potatoes, squash and cheese mixture; season generously with kosher salt and black ground pepper.

In a skillet, sauté 8 oz. sliced mushrooms, preferably portabella, in olive oil. Season with salt; add a minced garlic clove during the last 30 seconds of cooking.

Spread out the squash/potato mixture in a foil-lined pan and top with mushrooms.

Pour a cup of milk over the vegetables. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes; then raise the temperature to 425 and bake 30 minutes. Broil for 5 minutes. Let cool a little before eating. This goes great with a pumpkin beer.

4 comments:

adele said...

Oooh. Sounds tasty.

It's getting chilly in Boston. Maybe it's time to buy butternut squash. :)

Yulinka said...

Adele--I didn't feel like cooking with butternut squash until the temps hit 30... Before that, it was still Indian summer for me.

Irene said...

Oh, I am so so happy that I found your blog. I also came here when I was 9 (and my husband when he was a teenager) at around the same time that you did. It's very funny how our experiences and preferences, which we like to think are unique, are shaped by our childhood and experiences.

On a food note, have you ever made golubtsi? The recipe I have says that you have to fry them before cooking in a pot and does not include tomato paste, which just sounds odd to me. Would love to see someone who has done it. Grandma is notoriously secretive and just tells me to use a little bit of this and a little bit of that!

Yulinka said...

Hi Irene-Hey, we have a lot in common! My boyfriend also came here as a teen. I'm glad you're blogging about Russian food. My mom's planning the Thanksgiving menu, and it includes lots of zakuski (but not the ever-popular crab salad!) It's funny how immigrant families are alike.

I haven't made golubtsi, but I'm planning to. I've seen my mom fry golubtsi before cooking, but I've never seen a recipe that doesn't involve tomatoes. Let me know how it turns out if you make it.

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