I’ve recently found myself in the unusual position of having both plenty of traditional fall veggies and lots of late-season tomatoes around my kitchen. I don’t remember getting such good tomatoes into November before, so I think it must be the product of the late, hot summer we had this year. So, I’ve been on the lookout for recipes that make good use of tomatoes with fall veggies, and butternut squash gratin certainly fits the bill. It’s pretty much the perfect marriage of summer and fall.
If you’re not as lucky as I am to have fresh tomatoes around (and I think I am now at the end of that particular bounty), you can always use pre-made sauce. I like to make my own basic tomato sauce at the end of summer and either can or freeze it — but that’s another story for another day!
Butternut Squash Gratin
original recipe from The Greens Cookbook, with my modifications
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp paprika
1 lb tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 butternut squash,* weighing 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
4 ounces Gruyére cheese, sliced
Heat the olive oil and add the onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and a little salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft. Add the wine and let it reduce by half. Add the paprika and the tomatoes. Cook slowly for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick. Season with the salt and pepper.
While the tomatoes are cooking, cut open the squash, scoop out the seeds and strings, and then, with the flat cut surface resting on the counter, shave off the skin.** Slice the peeled squash into large pieces about 3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Heat enough oil to generously coat the bottom of a large skillet, and fry the squash on both sides, so that it is just tender and a little golden brown. Remove it to paper towels to drain, and then season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Put a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce on the bottom of individual gratin dishes, or use it all to cover the bottom of one large dish. Lay the squash on top in overlapping layers, with slices of the cheese interspersed between the layers. Bake until the cheese is melted and the gratin is hot, about 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
*You could substitute pretty much any winter squash here.
**You can also cut the squash into pieces first and then cut the peel off each piece. It’s a little easier, but more time-consuming.