Inspiration for this recipe came on what turned out to be the only coolish October day we had in Los Angeles this year. I was day dreaming about a particular butternut squash lasagna that we never seem to get around to making (probably because it feeds about 20 while exactly 2 people live in our house).
One thing lead to another which had me thinking about taking advantage of the unique shape of the butternut squash; specifically the long, solid neck. It seemed to me that thinly sliced and arranged, butternut squash, with its quintessentially autumnal flavor, could be an attractive Thanksgiving side dish.
So I experimented. One evening. Which hopefully explains the awful lighting in these photographs.
And, while the aesthetic didn’t come out quite as planned (I had hoped the cheese and bechamel sauce would sink into the dish once again revealing the rosette…alas, not so much), it tasted fantastic. Topped with a sort of streusel of hazelnuts, bread crumbs and nutmeg, this rich side dish would pair delightfully with roasted turkey or other light meat (we ate it will grilled pork chops…also delightful).
Of course you could make this like a more traditional scalloped dish, by layering the squash horizontally in between layers of sauce and cheese. By, why be normal?
Scalloped Butternut Squash(es)
The recipe below is based on arranging everything into a nine-inch quiche dish. Go ahead and 1.5X or 2X if using a regular 9X13 casserole dish.
- 1.5 lb butternut squash (find one with a nice long neck…it’ll make your peeling and slicing job easier)
- 1 ounce of roasted hazelnuts, skins removed
- 1 piece day-old bread made into crumbs (or 1/4 C of pre-made bread crumbs)
- 2 TBS shredded parmesan romano cheese (use the good stuff)
- 1/2-1 tsp ground nutmeg (or use fresh and microplane)
- 1 tsp either dried sage or italian seasoning
- 2 C whole milk
- 5 TBS butter
- 4 TBS flour
- 4 ounces shredded gruyere cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place half-sheet into oven.
- Butter a 9-inch quiche dish
- Peel butternut squash (I prefer to use a pairing knife). Cut the squash in two just above the bulb. Halve both the bulb and the neck longwise.
- Slice each half into very thin half-moons. I used a mandolin for this but you could also slice by hand. Set aside.
- Chop hazelnuts. In a small bowl, combine hazelnuts, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, nutmeg and sage (or italian seasoning). Combine gently with fingers.
- Warm the milk in a small sauce pan. Don’t let it boil.
- In a heavy-bottomed medium sauce-pan, melt the butter.
- Add in the flour and whisk constantly for about 3 minutes (until the flour no longer smells raw).
- Pour the milk into the flour mixture in a stream whisking the entire time. The mixture will attempt to seize up during the first cup and then begin to loosen as the second cup is added.
- Bring sauce to a simmer, whisking and allow to thicken (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Now you are ready to assemble.
- Cover bottom of quiche dish with sauce (about 1/2 C) followed by a thin layer of cheese (1/3 of the cheese)
- Starting at the outside, arrange butternut squash slices dome-side up overlapping. You may want to start with the larger, hollow slices from the dome. Continue overlapping the pieces as you work your way toward the center.
- Carefully pour the remaining sauce over the top of the butternut squash. Be sure to distribute it evenly so that it gets in all the nooks and crannies.
- Top with remaining cheese and hazelnut mixture.
- Pull heated half-sheet from oven, place quiche pan in the half-sheet, cover with foil and reinsert everything into the oven.
- Let bake with foil on for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake from 30 more minutes until the top of the dish is golden brown and sauce is bubbling.
- Allow dish to sit for 15 minutes before serving (to allow the sauce to thicken).