The sun is rising later and setting earlier. The mornings are chilly, if not just plain cold. While summer never seems to last long enough, fall brings with it a sense of slowing down, enjoying the fruits of our growing season. The satisfaction of putting my hands in the dirt for one last time as I clean out my gardens brings with it a sense of gratitude, reflection and excitement as we enter into a new season of festivities. The smell of a wood fire follows me on my walk with my dog and transports me to the valleys, castles and medieval villages of Abruzzo, Italy, home of my mother’s family. For others, though, fall is a bustling time of bringing in the harvest. Whether it is wheat, apples, olives, grapes or the multitude of crops that are brought in to nourish us through the year, the bounty is beautiful.
I am so grateful for the wonderful farmers market that delivers local produce, meat, eggs, and flowers. It is truly wonderful to walk and talk with the growers, meet friends, and share in the celebration of the season. Game birds and venison will be on the table, along with gorgeous vegetables. My senses are inspired by the colors and textures. I try not to get ahead of myself during this glorious time and just take in moments before we are blanketed in white.
One of my favorite pottery artisans, Ireland’s Nicholas Mosse, continues to delight me with old favorites and new patterns that will be on my table and in my kitchen this fall and winter. Traditional designs like Reindeer and Winter Robin and the new Lawn Pattern bring color, celebration, and function that create the perfect invitation to sitting down for a lovely evening with family and friends.
With the chill in the air I crave the smells, colors, and flavors of roasted vegetables. This butternut squash gratin is the perfect fall dish. Serve it with your favorite game; roast duck or venison. But it is equally good enjoyed as a main course with a beautiful salad and some chewy bread spread with this yummy Mushroom Spread with Truffle.
Butternut Squash Gratin
I like to cut the squash in 3 inch sections and roast it first. I am not a big fan of wrestling with peeling uncooked squash so I have found roasting the squash in sections simplifies using any winter squash in a recipe.
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 (2 pound) butternut squash
- fine sea salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- Casina Rossa Truffle and Salt (use as a finishing salt) *optional
- 1/2 cup grated Fontina or Gruyere cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1/4-1/3 cup heavy cream
- Alba White Truffle Oil *optional
Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice the squash in 3 inch chunks, remove seeds, and place on a rimmed cookie sheet that has been drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle squash with a bit more oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 45 minutes.
Remove squash from oven. Butter a 9-inch baking or gratin dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Using an oven mitt or hot pad, peel the skin off the squash. Slice the squash into 1/4 inch slices and layer into the baking dish, sprinkling some salt and pepper between each layer. When the dish is half full sprinkle 1/2 of the cheese and rosemary over the squash. Continue layering the squash with salt and pepper. Pour the cream over the top, add remaining cheese and rosemary. Cover the dish with foil and bake an additional 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, remove the foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Drizzle lightly with Truffle Oil and sprinkle lightly with Truffle Salt.