The fall harvest is starting to show up everywhere, and I have a confession to make about it. I just cannot pass up winter squash or apples at this time of the year. I’ll open my refrigerator and suddenly find that I’m inundated with squash and apple. But then I’ll find myself passing by the farmers’ market or grocery store, or one of those rad roadside farm stands, and I just can’t help myself. It’s the only time of the year that I succumb to something like this, but guys, it’s bad.
So, what was I to do, but try to combine both the apples and squash in a casserole? It was the only answer, really. The sharp cheddar cheese is important. The flavors of the cheese and apple, bring the squash to the next level. Don’t mess around with those medium cheddars, they can’t stand up to this job. Save ‘em for your sandwiches and crackers.
So even if you take away nothing else from this post, I have to share this tip with you. I heard it a couple a years ago, and have been using it since. We all know winter squash is a right pain to cut. So here’s the trick, take a sharp knife and pierce the squash several times, then pop it in the microwave for two, maybe three minutes. Let it cool slightly, then slice it up. Easy, breezy.
And now back to that gratin. This recipe is adapted from an old Betty Crocker side dish cookbook for Squash and Cranberry Gratin, but is a little sweet to my taste, though I love the mix of squash and cranberry. You can expect to see those flavors in the near future.
Squash and apple gratin
Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Squash and Cranberry Gratin
3 cups winter squash (1 large-ish squash)
⅔ cup finely chopped tart apple (1 medium apple)
½ medium onion chopped
3 Tbsp butter, melted, divided
Salt and pepper to taste, be generous
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 teaspoon ground sage
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Pierce squash several times with sharp knife. Microwave whole squash for 2 minutes. This will make the squash easier to cut. Cut squash into fourths and remove seeds. Place cut sides down in a microwave safe dish, cover and microwave until tender, about 14 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Discard squash seeds and scoop squash into a medium bowl, mix in apples, onions, garlic, sage and 2 Tbsp melted butter. Press into lightly greased casserole dish. Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese over squash and then top cheese with panko breadcrumbs. Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp butter. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.