Butternut Squash and Kale Gratin

It has been awhile since my last post, and may be a little time before the next. My summer share from Two Field Farm ended in October and my winter share won’t start until January.  In the between time  I hope to post about some holiday food that I’m making, then get back into the swing of things in January.  Which brings me to this recipe.  I had a single butternut squash and a couple onions left from my summer share, so this truly represents the last of summer/fall for me.  I roasted the squash with some spices and tossed with caramelized onions and kale that I purchased at Wilson Farm in Lexington, then topped everything with blue cheese and crisped it under the broiler.  The spice in the squash hangs out subtly in the background and the cheese brings it together in a delicious, funky way.  I served this when some friends came over for dinner last week and the next day was asked for the recipe, so I am not the only one who thinks it is really good! This very pretty looking side dish can be made  ahead of time then popped in the oven shortly before service to reheat, and melt/brown the cheese.  This is a very easy and tasty Thanksgiving side to prepare for your own guests, or bring to the home of friends or family as a local offering. I am heading back to California tomorrow to spend the holiday with my family – assuming what I make isn’t a disaster I’ll post some pictures and recipes from that meal when I get back.  Have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!

The first thing to get started with in this dish is the onions, to get them as dark and soft as they should be they need about an hour and a half to cook. Start by slicing the onions thinly.

Heat a large skillet with a tablespoon of canola oil, and add the sliced onions. Cook them for about 5 minutes over medium high heat, stirring often. After about five minutes the onions will be very sligthly browned, softer, and somewhat translucent.

Add a couple tablespoons of butter and some salt then reduce the heat to medium low.  Allow them to cook for 60 – 90 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally.  They will become very dark, golden brown and very soft. These ones below are a little bit over (they cooked for about 2 hours), you can see a couple places where they got too dark.  You can also see how much volume you loose in the cooking process.  It seems like a lot of onions when you start but it really is not in the end.

When the onions are done set them aside until you are ready to toss them with the squash and kale.

The squash needs to be broken down from a one large squash to many 1″ squash cubes. I think this is the best way to do it. Start by removing the top from you squash then separating the long, neck like part from the round part on the bottom.  

Cut the long part in half across the width, and the round part in half down the length.  Making the long part smaller will make it easier to take the skin off.  Using your knife go around the sides of the two halves of the long part, shaving the skin off.

Scoop the insides out of the round halves.

Cut each half in half again, then remove the skin with your knife, keeping the thickest part of each piece on the cutting board.

Cut the large pieces of squash into one inch disks, then into long rectangles, then into cubes.

Toss the squash pieces with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, ground all spice, fresh thyme, and a chipotle or dark chili powder.

Lay the squash pieces out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and cook in 350° oven for 20 – 30 minutes, until the squash is mostly soft and slightly browned.

While the squash is roasting, remove the stems then blanch the kale.  Wring the greens dry after cooling and chop into small pieces.

Lightly oil a pie, baking, or gratin dish then mix together the kale, onions, and squash. Spread in an even layer into the prepared dish.

Crumble 1/4 pound of blue cheese over the top then place under your oven’s broiler for 5 – 7 minutes, until the dish is heated through and the cheese has melted and started to brown.

You could top this with another cheese if you don’t like blue cheese – gruyere or feta for example.  Or you could use bread crumbs or cracker crumbs tossed with butter (or olive oil for a vegan option,  omit the butter from the onions as well).

Butternut Squash and Kale Gratin

Serves 6
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 35 minutes

Ingredients

Caramelized Onions

  • 3 large Yellow Onions (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon Canola Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Butternut Squash

  • 1 large Butternut Squash (Peeled and cut into 1)
  • 1 teaspoon All Spice
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle or Smoked Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Assembly

  • 1 bunch Kale (Blanched, chopped fine)
  • 1/4lb Feta or Blue Cheese

Directions

Caramelized Onions
Step 1
In a very large skillet heat canola oil over medium high heat and add the sliced onions. Cook the onions over medium high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes - until slightly browned. Reduce heat to medium low, stir in butter and allow to cook stirring occasionally until deep brown and very soft, about 60 - 90 minutes. When the onions are done remove them from the heat until ready to use.
Butternut Squash
Step 2
Preheat oven to 350°. Toss diced butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, allspice, and chili powder. Place on a parchment lined sheet pan and roast until soft, 20 - 30 minutes.
Assemble and Bake
Step 3
Toss together blanched kale, caramelized onions, and roasted squash, layer into a lightly greased pie plate or gratin dish. Top with crumbled blue or feta cheese and place under the broiler until browned and crisp - 5 - 7 minutes.

 

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