Have you ever immediately disliked something that over time you came to enjoy? I made a least one of my good friends this way (and no, I will not tell you who). And I do this with songs all the time. One day I’m flipping the channel as fast as I can, and three days later I’m belting that same song out at the top of my lungs. I’m still sort of waiting for this phenomenon to apply to my exercise routine.
While I’m waiting, I’ll share this dish with you. It is most definitely one of those things I was just not sure about. Clearly, there was something about the recipe that I liked, or I would not have bothered with it in the first place. But then as I was pouring butter and flour over these beautiful fruits and vegetables, I started to think it was not a good idea at all.
It did not improve much in the looks department once I had it out of the oven, either. I had little hope it would taste much better than it looked. But lo and behold…it wasn’t half bad. Despite the fact I would never put black pepper on a raw apple, the sweet and spicy flavors work surprisingly well together in this dish. As noted in the original recipe, there is also something balanced about the creamy bites of squash and chewy bites of cranberry.
I am sharing this recipe today because I invited myself to a 12 Weeks of Winter Squash party last week (check out the links below for some other great recipes!). Granted, we are four weeks in and I am just now showing up, but better late than never, I hope.
If you too are finding yourself a bit behind the curve and still looking for a Thanksgiving side dish, this one might be a nice change of pace. Not only is it fairly delicious, it is super quick and easy to pull together, especially if you purchase peeled and diced squash.
I am not typically an advocate of pre-packaged anything, but in the case of an unwieldy butternut squash, this works for me. At my grocery store, a two-pound package of squash is usually just a dollar more per pound than the unprepared squash. The time (and potential injury from a wayward knife) I save is well worth my extra two dollars.
Since I still can’t get over all that butter smothering beautiful fruits and vegetables, in the future I will likely prepare this dish similar to autumn nachos, replacing some of the butter with maple syrup for a little added sweet. Somehow, someway, I don’t have a problem with the extra sugar (syrup) the way I do the extra fat (butter). Go figure.
- 2-3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 3 Granny Smith apples, cored and diced
- 1⅓ cups dried cranberries
- ¼ flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, toss together the squash, apples, dried cranberries, parsley, thyme, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
- Drizzle the melted butter over the squash mixture and stir or toss to combine.
- Next pour the flour over the squash mixture and, again, stir or toss until evenly coated.
- Transfer the squash mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes. The top of the gratin will be browned and the squash will be fork tender but not mushy.