I received Giada de Laurentiis’ cookbook “Giada’s Family Dinners” as a gift when I was about 13 years old. As you can imagine, many of the recipes were a bit complicated and intimidating for an eighth grader—and at age 23, a few of them still are! Most nights I improvise a dinner plan because it’s good stress relief for me, but the other day I decided to (literally) dust off the cookbook and try something new. Since I had a butternut squash staring at me from the kitchen table rack for like a week, I went with this recipe. And it turned out pretty good! If you’re skeptical about the pesto/squash combination, don’t worry, I felt the same way. I think it works so well though because the saltiness of the swirled-on pesto is brought down a bit by the sweetness in the squash.
Some things to keep in mind:
- I made the pesto from scratch, but you can definitely use the store-bought kind.
- If you’re having difficulty getting the squash to purée properly (especially if you’re living that blender-instead-of-food-processor struggle like me), just add a little milk or water (or both).
- I never have unsalted butter on hand, so I used regular and just skipped the salt it calls for.
- The original recipe calls for one 3-pound squash, but I highly recommend using two squashes instead—otherwise you’ll end up with a very shallow result (we’re talking an inch, max).
Ready? Let’s get started!
Butternut Squash Gratin with Pesto*
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, plus more for baking dish
- 1 (3-lb) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup basil pesto
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (I use more than that LOL)
- Preheat oven to 350℉.
- Lightly coat an 8 x 8″ baking dish with butter (easiest way is to put a small sandwich baggie over your hand like a glove, grab a glob, and go to town!)
- In a large pot, bring a couple inches of water to a boil, then add squash. Steam over medium heat until very tender (approximately 20 minutes or so).
- Transfer squash to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon half the squash evenly into the prepared baking dish.
- Dollop half of the pesto all over the squash and sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat layering process.
- Using a knife or skewer, swirl pesto decoratively into the squash.
- Finally, add pieces of butter all over the top.
- Bake for about 40 minutes until edges are golden brown.
Guess what? Gratin leftovers do double duty as a totally different meal idea! Head on over to fitbythefork on Instagram to find out what it is 😉