Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Sage Inspiration for a Turkey Dinner

My roommate's boyfriend recently acquired an icebox. This gloriously large new freezer space inspired him to purchase items like seven pound frozen turkey breasts. Tonight he hosted a turkey breast potluck, and my roommate and I decided to bring sage-themed items because we happened to have a bit of sage in the fridge. She made a great, meat-y stuffing with apples and mushrooms and cornbread; I made a butternut squash gratin, featuring sage, from Deborah Madison's vegetarian bible.

I ended up using one big squash instead of a few smaller ones; I was worried it wouldn't turn out sweet, because larger squash tend to be less sweet than the littler ones, but it ended up being pretty good. The potluck crew ate it up! Along with my roommate's delightful stuffing.

Butternut Squash Gratin with Onions and Sage from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced onion
4 thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons chopped sage (or 2 teaspoons dried)
salt and pepper
6 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes [for me this took one fairly large butternut]
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Gruyere or Fontina [I used gruyere]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heated whole milk
1 cup fresh bread crumbs [sadly, I used store-bought -- future project]

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a 2-quart gratin dish.

Heat half the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, and sage and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Spread in the gratin dish.

Return the skillet to medium heat, and add the remaining oil.

Toss the squash in the flour, letting the excess fall away. Add it to the pan and cook until it begins to brown in places on both sides, about 7 minutes. Add the parsley, season with salt and plenty of pepper, and cook for one minute more. Layer the squash over the onions, cover with the cheese, then add the milk. Cover and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover, add the bread crumbs, and bake until the top is browned and the liquid absorbed, about 25 minutes more.

I had also made the Sweet and Spicy Nuts from Smitten Kitchen a few days ago, and brought a batch of those over as well. Also a bit hit.

1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts [I used pecans]
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add walnuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. [I used aluminum foil; worked out fine.]

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.


  1. Butternut squash, cheese, and sage is one of my fav combos ever. This looks amazing!

  2. Wait, why did Google Reader just decide that this is a brand new post?