Published October 4, 2012 - Last Updated January 22, 2021
With autumn here, I’ve got butternut squash on the brain. This sweet squash is really healthy and versatile. It’s loaded with vitamins A and C, making it a more nutritious alternative to starch-heavy potatoes. Last week, I started wondering how butternut squash would taste as a gratin, so I experimented and tested a few ideas. This recipe is what I came up with. It’s a unique twist on a classic gratin, and it would make a fun (and tasty) addition to the Sukkot or Thanksgiving table.
For those of you who’ve never tried Gruyère cheese, you are in for a treat. It’s a semi-hard yellow cheese with a slightly sweet, slightly salty, nutty flavor. The cheese originated in Switzerland near the French border. After the fall of the Roman Empire, a group of Germanic immigrants settled among Romanized Celtic inhabitants of the Swiss highlands. This group of new settlers led to an increase in alpine cheese making in the ninth century. In the eleventh century, the counts of Gruyère were given feudal authority over the highlands of the region, including the western alpine cheese making region. The counts capitalized on the growing cheese trade by taking control of the highland grazing areas and summer migration routes. Gruyère gained a reputation for producing outstanding cheeses. By the Middle Ages, an entire family of alpine cheeses were being made throughout the Alps, including the cheese we know today as Gruyère.
I love this gratin. The natural sweetness of the butternut squash is accentuated by a roast in the oven with garlic prior to assembling the gratin. The cheese sauce is a variation on my Roasted Cauliflower Gratin sauce. Here, I’ve used Gruyère cheese and a touch of nutmeg, which is the perfect accent to the sweet squash. After testing the recipe a couple of times I felt it needed more texture, so I toasted some chopped walnuts and sprinkled them over the squash before baking. After a brief browning beneath the broiler, a beautiful gratin is the result. It’s sweet, salty, nutty, and so unique… the perfect side dish for autumn.
New to butternut squash? Check out my post All About Butternut Squash for everything you need to know about peeling, seeding, and prepping this hard-skinned winter squash. If you’re gluten free, I’ve provided a simple GF modification below. Those who have nut allergies can feel free to omit the walnuts, the dish will still be very tasty without them.
If you need a gratin dish, try this one! It’s the dish I use in my own home, I recommend it highly. Enjoy!
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Kindstedt, Paul S. (2012). Cheese and Culture, A History of Cheese and Its Place in Western Civilization. Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT.
Thanks for stopping by! I am fascinated by the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s food can inspire us in the kitchen today. Read more...