Butternut Squash Gratin with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

Oh, my ever lovin’ goodness.  I promised myself that I would not oversell this; that I would use a modicum of restraint so as not to overly raise expectations.  But if you want me to talk about this, perhaps you’re going to have to deal with my unbridled enthusiasm.  Man, is this stuff good.  Like wicked good.  Like the absolute opposite of suckiness.

Like, just-try-not-taking-another-forkful, good.  But how could it not be good.  I mean what we have here are layers of roasted butternut squash, braised leeks, sage and goat cheese.  This is then topped with roasted hazelnuts and a drizzle of cream before baking and becoming a lovely, cohesive dish of deliciousness.

A big bonus here is how easy it is to put together.  Our new Trader Joe’s opened up last week and this is one big reason I love that store…

Now, I don’t really mind carving up a butternut squash, but if I can buy these, I mean, how cool is that!?  I highly recommend it.  

I pretty much love butternut squash however it comes to me, but layer it with braised leeks, fresh sage and goat cheese and I’m in!  Way in.

I’m seriously considering breaking with tradition this Thanksgiving and serving this gratin instead of our favorite sweet potatoes.  Breaking with tradition is a major crime around here, but I’m willing to risk life and limb for this one.  In the end, I don't think it would really be much of a risk.  Here's the recipe...

Butternut Squash Gratin with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

For a printable recipe, click here

Recipe Courtesy of Bon Apetit

Serves 4-5 as a side dish

4 cups of cubed butternut squash (about 1 medium squash, peeled, seeded and cubed)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Coarse kosher salt

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, divided

1 1/2 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)

3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

½ of a 5.5-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (I use this)

1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place butternut squash cubes and olive oil in large bowl; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and ground pepper and toss to coat. Spread out squash cubes on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until just tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced leeks and chopped sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender but not brown, about 15 minutes. Coat an 8-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Spread half of leek mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of squash and half of cheese. Repeat layering with leeks, squash, and cheese. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour cream evenly over gratin. Sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts. Bake uncovered until gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if previously chilled).