If you’re trying to eat seasonally, you might think you can only look at this month’s food magazines for inspiration. But guess what? The root vegetables that were in season last November are still in season, so you can pull ideas from old issues, too.
One recipe I just made — a Butternut Squash Gratin with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts — originally appeared in the November 2007 issue of Bon Appetit. It features roasted butternut squash (which seems to be the squash that even non-squash-lovers will eat), plus caramelized leeks and cheese, all layered in a shallow gratin dish and covered with cream.
We were having company the night I made it, and one of our guests was pregnant. Since she can’t eat soft cheeses right now, I pulled some out and made a separate dish with parmesan instead of goat cheese. Much to my surprise, I liked her version even more than original one. When heated, goat cheese has a way of becoming so rich and creamy that it can overpower everything else. Not so with parmesan, which allows the other flavors to come through.
If you make it, don’t worry about running out for hazelnuts. I usually have some in my pantry but discovered at the 11th hour that I’d run out. I used chopped toasted walnuts instead, and the combination worked beautifully. I also used a sprinkling of dried thyme instead of fresh sage, but that’s a matter of convenience and personal preference. (Remember to use a third or less of what’s called for if making this dried-for-fresh substitution.) My last tip is to check the gratin early, as mine was done far sooner than the 30 minutes specified in the directions.
The end result is a dish worthy of the Thanksgiving table it was originally written for, but easy enough to make on a weeknight. While it’s richer than I normally cook for my family, the cream adds a sumptuousness that makes guests feel special. Just pair it with something light, like grilled pork chops or steak, and a crisp green vegetable or salad.
Click here for the recipe for Butternut Squash Gratin with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts.