Sunday, May 18, 2008

Butternut Squash and Creamed-Spinach Gratin

I love gratins, simply because I love cheese:) I had never thought of putting squash together with spinach until I saw this recipe at Gourmet.

I used a regular knife to cut the squash, you don't really have to have a mandolin. You can roast the squash slices for 20 min. in a 450 oven to bring out the sweetness. And you can probably find bagged spinach ready to go at your local market. Trader Joes has bags, and they are better than frozen ones. Make sure you get rid of juices as much as possible from the spinach, otherwise the dish will become soggy.

And because I like cheese, I actually used more Parmesan cheese between layers. I'm glad I did:) You can also add ricotta for texture.

Cooking time was a little bit longer than the recipe. I had to keep it in the oven an extra 10 minutes.

If you don't like heavy cream use a classic bechamel and stir the onion/spinach mixture into the bechamel. Then layer the butternut with the bechamel to make a "lasagna" type structure.



3 lb fresh spinach, stems discarded, or 3 (10-oz) packages frozen leaf spinach, thawed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter plus additional for greasing pan
3/4 cup finely chopped onion (1 small)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
4 lb butternut squash (2 large), peeled, quartered, and seeded
1/2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 cup)
Special equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer

If using fresh spinach, bring 1 inch water to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart pot over high heat. Add spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water.

Thoroughly squeeze cooked fresh or thawed frozen spinach in small handfuls to remove excess moisture, then coarsely chop and transfer to a bowl.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in an 8-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, then cook onion and garlic, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion mixture to spinach along with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cream and stir to combine.

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish (13 by 9 inches; not glass).

Cut squash to separate bulb section from solid neck section, then cut pieces lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices with slicer.

Layer squash and spinach mixture in baking dish, using about one fifth of squash and one fourth of spinach for each layer, beginning and ending with squash. Sprinkle top layer of squash evenly with cheese and dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then cover directly with a sheet of parchment or wax paper.

Bake until squash is tender and filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove paper and bake gratin until browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes, or broil 3 inches from heat, 2 to 3 minutes.

Note: Gratin can be assembled, but not baked, 1 day ahead and kept, surface covered with parchment or wax paper and then covered with plastic wrap, chilled. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before baking.

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