It’s amazing how easy it is for me to switch gears at the end of the season and forge ahead leaving behind my summer favorites and jumping right into fall. I must say that I always yearn for a big pile of vine ripened tomatoes on my counter, but besides that I am happy to be cooking with whatever is in season and looks best at the market.
This recipe couldn’t be any easier and I dare say that the most difficult step is peeling and chopping the butternut squash! Once that’s done you simply roast, mash and prepare a crumb topping and into the oven it goes. I served this alongside a chicken roasted with balsamic onions and as I tucked into the creamy gratin I felt that fall had definitely shown up.
Zucca Gratinata (Squash Gratin from Southern Italian Farmers’ Table)
1 butternut squash, about 3 pounds, peeled, seeded and cut into 2″ chunks
6 tablespoons extra-virign olive oil
3/4 cup coarse bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1/2 cup pecorino cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the squash in a colander and generously sprinkle with salt. Let the squash sit for about 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry.
Put the squash on a baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast in the oven until the squash is tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a bowl and mash until it is mostly smooth. Spread into a baking dish (8′ x 8″ or something similar).
In a small bowl toss together the bread crumbs, sage, parsley, pecorino, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil and top the squash with this mixture. Bake until the crumbs are nicely browned, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Serves: 6