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Butternut Squash and Spinach Gratin

This amazing side is based on an original recipe on epicurious and is a fantastic pair for cold weather comfort food!

3 (10-ounce) packages frozen leaf spinach, thawed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves minced or crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon freshly nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
2 large butternut squash - peeled, quartered, and seeded
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Squeeze thawed frozen spinach in small handfuls to remove excess moisture, then coarsely chop and transfer to a bowl.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in an 8-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, then cook onion and garlic for 3-5 min stirring periodically. Add onion mixture to spinach along with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cream and stir to combine.

Cut squash to separate bulb section the straight neck section, then cut pieces in long strips into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Take good care as butternut squash is awkward and easy to cut yourself.

Layer squash and spinach mixture in baking dish 13 x 9, using about 1/5 of squash and 1/4 of spinach for each layer, beginning and ending with squash. Sprinkle top layer of squash evenly with cheese and add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, then cover directly with wax paper. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until squash is tender and filling is bubbling. Uncover and bake gratin another 10-15 min until browned slightly.


Twice Baked Butternut Squash

4 Butternut Squash
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
5 tablespoons light sour cream
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
4 chives, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs or panko

Heat oven to 450 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven.  Halve the butternut squash lengthwise (do not cut off the ends) and remove the seeds.

Sprinkle halves with salt and pepper.  Fill roasting pan with 1/4 inch of water.  Place squash in the pan and cover with foil.  Bake until tender, about 35-45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer squash to a cool surface.  Use a spoon to scoop squash out of the skin and into a mixing bowl.  Be careful not to tear the skin.  Reduce oven heat to 425 degrees.  Add sour cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, chives and salt/pepper.  Mix until smooth.  Refill the squash with the mixture and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Bake uncovered until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

This recipe can be scaled down and most ingredients can be added to taste.

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