Black Friday has come and gone; the countdown to Christmas is officially in full swing. The crowds have descended upon the malls and mass merchandisers, and I'm holed up at home, laughing about how my holiday shopping is finished. Completed. Done. The only thing left for me to do is to cook up a storm from the comfort of my own home.
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Winter is a hard time to find locally grown produce if you live in climates where the cold temperatures freeze the ground. Winter squash is one vegetable that is easily stored through the winter and allows you to keep eating local even when the only thing growing outside your front door is the pile of snow at the end of the driveway.
I had purchased a butternut squash about a week ago with no plans as to how I was going to use it. Inspiration hit hard as I was digging through a cupboard or two, trying to gain some sense of organization as I planned my baking list. I saw a lone bag of pine nuts and I instantly knew how to kick off my winter comfort food marathon.
Potato and Butternut Sage Gratin with Chèvre
A twist on a traditional gratin by pairing the potatoes with butternut squash and adding pine nuts, sage and chèvre, to continue the earthy theme. It lends itself perfectly for a holiday potluck or the main event itself.
1 butternut squash (approximately 2 pounds)
3 medium to large potatoes
¼ cup pine nuts
Small bunch of sage
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces chèvre
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 350º F. Peel and slice potatoes into thin rounds. Slice butternut squash in half, scoop out seeds, peel and slice towards the center into semicircles. In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pine nuts and sage and sauté, stirring continuously, 30 seconds. Add minced garlic. Sauté for 30 more seconds. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl combine potatoes, squash, pine nut mixture, salt and pepper. Stir to coat potato and squash slices evenly. Layer slices in a 1-½-quart baking dish. After one layer each of squash and potatoes, add teaspoon-sized dollops of chèvre dotted across the layer. Repeat layering process until all potatoes and squash are used (approximately 3 layers). Pour cream over the squash and potato slices. You want the cream to come up to the bottom of the top layer.
Place uncovered in 350º F oven. Bake for 75-90 minutes. After 30 minutes, run a spoon around the side to allow cream to flow to the bottom of the dish. Repeat at 60 minutes. Remove from oven when squash and potatoes are fork tender. Allow to rest 20 minutes before serving. Dig in and enjoy.