A few years ago, I posted about a really great pumpkin dish I had when we were living in southern Brazil. Pumpkin is used there year round, and not solely associated with fall and the holidays as it is in the U.S. So I’d often find it on the lunch buffets, a popular business dining option during the week.
So this dish I speak of combined roasted pumpkin and Gorgonzola cheese. It was the best combination with the sweet pumpkin and pungent cheese.
I made it the same way that I could guess it was made there, but ever since that encounter I’ve envisioned a more exciting and luxurious version. Perhaps one with a different winter squash, fit for the holiday table.
I finally got around to acting on those visions this year.
I made a thick sauce with a basic roux (flour and butter), and then added chicken stock. Finally crumbled blue cheese is stirred in until melted. So there is no cream or milk in this gratin, just butter and the blue cheese.
The next step was to top it with something crunchy. I skipped the bread crumbs and went straight for chopped nuts. Rosemary adds an excellent depth of flavor to squash so that went into the topping which I’m loosely calling a crumble.
It’s all baked until the squash is tender and cheese bubbles ever so slightly on the top. The sauce thickens a bit more during baking, too.
You end up with a side dish that, surprisingly, isn’t too overpowered with blue cheese. It’s rich for sure, but also creamy and filling.
As much as I love scalloped potatoes and potato gratin, I’d think twice about grabbing a scoop if this was offered alongside. It’s that good.
Butternut Squash Blue Cheese Gratin with Walnut Rosemary Crumble
Makes 6 servings
What you’ll need:
1 pound cubed butternut squash
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup finely chopped raw walnuts
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Fine sea salt for additional seasoning
How to make it:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and spray a baking dish about 8-by-10-inches in size with non-stick cooking spray.
Toss together the squash, shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread in a single layer in the baking dish.
In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Once melted and bubbling, whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to low and whisk vigorously for about 45 seconds, until a paste forms. Continue to whisk until smooth as you pour in the chicken stock. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook, whisking occasionally, until it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Return the heat to medium-low. Stir in the cheese until melted and mostly smooth. Remove from the heat. Taste and add salt if desired. (The need will all depend on how flavorful your chicken stock is.)
Pour the cheese sauce over the squash in the baking pan. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and stir it together with the walnuts, rosemary, and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle the walnut mix evenly over the squash and cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling and the cheese sauce just begins to brown on the top. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.