Sunday, December 28, 2008


Lately, whenever I spend time with my family I try to make myself useful, or at least try to feel useful, by going directly into the kitchen and cooking. I usually spend the majority of each family visit doing this and it actually seems to work. I manage to stay focused, stay busy, if I'm lucky I stay out of trouble and I might even be somewhat useful. As a side benefit I'm also able to improve and increase my culinary repertoire.

Something I've enjoyed making, and most everyone seems to have enjoyed eating, is a Gratin of Butternut Squash, Leeks, Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts. It's simple to make and rather delicious.


  • 3 1/2 pounds butternut squash (or 2 medium squashes), peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2 to 3/4- inch cubes (about 8 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
  • 3 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 5.5-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place butternut squash cubes and olive oil in large bowl; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and ground pepper and toss to coat. Spread out squash cubes on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until just tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced leeks and chopped sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender but not brown, about 15 minutes. Coat 11x7-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Spread half of leek mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of squash and half of cheese. Repeat layering with leeks, squash, and cheese. This can be done 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Pour cream evenly over gratin. Sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts. Bake uncovered until gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if previously chilled).

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