Saturday, November 19, 2011

Squash Gratin #Recipe - Perfect for Fall

Fall makes me happy because squash hit the markets and stores. Healthy, simple and inexpensive it is a great choice for dinner.

This recipe was inspired from The Healthy Foodie. We have a lot of Delicata squash grown on the farm, and the size is very inviting for our family. Have you ever been intimidated by a huge squash? The Delicata is easy enough to slice with my knife, and I can split it between my DH and I.

Usually we just split one, bake it and top with a bit of butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar. So, simple... so creamy ...and delicious. But, there is so much more potential there. I think this squash gratin fits the bill.

You Will need:
1 Delicata squash
1 onion, chopped fine
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
1 small bell pepper, chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. oregano
2 tsp. Spike Seasoning
2 bay leaves
1/2 c. red lentils
2 c. favorite tomato base (either plain tomato, marinara sauce, etc.)
2 c. chicken stock
2 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach
Parmesan Cheese
Smoked Cheddar
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Grab your squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and set aside. Take a baking dish, size doesn't matter... it should be large enough to hold your squash, and add an inch of water to the bottom. Put the squash in cut side up.

Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. At 25 check the squash by piercing the flesh with a fork or knife. It should be soft.

While the squash bakes, chop the onion, celery and bell pepper. The pieces should be a similar size so they cook at the same time.

Put them in a pan with a little olive oil to soften. As they start to become translucent, add the minced garlic. It just just heat through.

Then add the seasoning, lentils, tomato base and stock. I went with a red lentil because they are so pretty. I have had some hanging around my pantry for a while. I was looking for the right time to pull them out. Any lentil will work though. Use what you have on hand.

I make a batch of tomato sauce weekly. It doubles for spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce and any other stand in sauce I need. It worked really well in this dish, but you could also add your own tomatoes, or a jar of your favorite sauce as well.

Simmer this for about 25 minutes, till the lentils are tender. Then add in the baby spinach just to wilt. If you don't have enough moisture add a dash or two of olive oil.

Okay, the filling is finished. The squash should be about done.

When it is cool enough to handle, scoop out the insides. I didn't scrape it all out, just a bit. I mashed the flesh in a bowl, seasoned it with salt and pepper and sprinkled Parmesan Cheese in the bottom of the skins.

Put your skins back into the dried and greased baking dish. Then add a layer of the lentil mixture. Top with some of the mashed squash, another handfull of grated Parmesan & Smoked Cheddar cheese and repeat as you like for as full of a squash as you can handle.

Top it with a bit more cheese and place it back into the oven for 15-20 minutes. The cheese should melt and even get a little bubbly on top. If you need more color, put it under the broiler for a minute or two.


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