Assorted Winter Squash, for Butternut Squash Gratin

Butternut Squash Gratin with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

When fall looms ahead of us we are often a bit down…but as soon as we go to the first Fall/Winter farmer’s market at Riley Park we are totally blown away by the vibrant colours of all the vegetables.  It certainly lifts the spirits of this cook!  This is a long time favourite of ours and it’s served often…makes a lovely company side too.  I most often cut the recipe in half when serving smaller groups or just ourselves.  If you prefer you can purchase ready peeled and cut squash at some stores.

Makes 8 to 10 Servings

3 1/2 lbs. Butternut squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, cut into 3/4 – 1″ cubes
2 Tbsp. EVO
Coarse Kosher salt
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
3 cups sliced leeks, white & pale green parts only (see below)
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh sage
1 (5 1/2 oz.) long soft fresh goat cheese
1 cup heavy cream/whipping cream
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, coarsely chopped (see below)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place butternut squash cubes and olive oil in a large bowl; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and toss to coat.  Spread out squash cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Roast until just tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 3 Tbsp. butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Add sliced leeks and chopped sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Saute until tender but not brown, about 15 minutes.

Coat an 11×7″ baking dish with remaining 1 Tbsp. butter.  spread half of leek mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with half of squash and half of cheese.  Repeat layering with leeks, squash and cheese.  You can do this ahead by 1 day.  Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Pour cream evenly over gratin.  sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts.  Bake uncovered until gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes or 40 minutes if previously chilled.

Helpful links to:  cleaning leeks.  And to: toasting nuts.

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