Squash and Spinach Gratin

Squash_copy

Over the past three weeks, I've been getting to know our new oven and fantasizing about the hearty fare that will take us through the fall and winter.  Our apartment has an open layout with a somewhat outdated kitchen, but items like a trusty oven thermometer, a lovely island from Craigslist, and the bold colors of my mother's vintage Fiestaware are quickly making it home.

I have also jumped head-first into the daunting task of organizing all of my recipe clippings.  So far, I have organized the bulk of my recipes (a pile of pages four inches thick) into hanging files with no less than 16 categories.  The recipes that I have tested and enjoyed are in a second pile that will eventually be stored in a three-ring binder with cooking notes and suggestions.

To initiate my fall cooking endeavors, I pulled a recipe from the November 2006 Gourmet out of the stack.  It turned out so well that it was quickly upgraded to the "three-ring binder" pile. 

Squash and Spinach Gratin
Adapted from Gourmet

Ingredients

3 (10-oz) packages frozen, chopped leaf spinach, thawed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter plus additional for greasing pan
1 small Vidalia onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
4 lb butternut squash (2 large), peeled, quartered, and seeded
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Method

Thoroughly squeeze spinach in small handfuls to remove excess moisture and transfer to a bowl.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in an 8-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat.  Cook onion and garlic, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion mixture to spinach along with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cream and stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish.

Cut squash to separate bulb section from solid neck section, then cut pieces  into 1/8-inch-thick slices.  An adjustable blade slicer is extremely helpful here.

Layer squash and spinach mixture in baking dish, using about one fifth of squash and one fourth of spinach for each layer, beginning and ending with squash. Top each layer with a portion of the grated cheese.

Sprinkle top layer of squash with cheese and dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter.  Cover with tin foil and bake until squash is tender and filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake gratin until browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes, or broil 3 inches from heat, 2 to 3 minutes.

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I've been playing around with the site a bit.  I hope you don't mind.  One day my brother will help me design a fancy site, but he is busy with people who actually pay him for web design at the moment.  Feel free to offer your input as I screw around with things like the banner and the picture format.  I have received fairly universal, "It looks too harsh" feedback from the opinions I solicited thus far.

This weekend I will be covering a portion of the Chicago Gourmet festival for Gapers Block.  I'll be attending two seminars tomorrow:

Pairing Fine Cheese With Craft Beer
Greg Hall, Brewmaster, Goose Island Beer Company

Baking Techniques: Molecular Gastronomy vs. Artisan Baking
Mindy Segal, Hot Chocolate and Pichet Ong, P*ONG

Syrian Onion Bread

Snapshots of Portland