Thursday, November 5, 2009

Creamy Winter Squash Gratin

Have a double portion of this yummy gratin to transform it from a side dish to the main event.

The winter squash in question tonight is kabocha squash - that's the dark green one with the very hard rind. For that reason, I strongly recommend your sharpest knife. The last time I worked with kabocha (prior to this blog) was about exactly 2 years ago, and I seem to recall crying a time or two as I did my best with a dull knife. That was then; this is now, and luckily I am equipped with better knives!

Anyway, you'll need 4 cups of cubed and peeled kabocha. (If you can't find kabocha, try pumpkin or butternut squash). Arrange the squash in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 1 teaspoon vegan butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 cup thinly sliced leek and 1/4 tsp. salt; cook for 4 minutes. As always with leek, I recommend slicing first, then washing the layers in a sieve so all the dirt gets rinsed out.

Mix 1 and 3/4 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk) with 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, stirring well with a whisk. Add to the saucepan and bring to a boil (I turned the heat up just a notch to medium-high). Once boiling, stir for 1 minute, stirring constantly; the mixture should be thick.

Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Gruyere (I used the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), 1/8 tsp. black pepper and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg. Stir until the 'cheese' melts, then gently stir in the squash.

Spoon the mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

Place 1 (1-ounce) slice of white bread in a food processor and pulse ten times until you have coarse crumbs. Add 1 teaspoon chopped parsley and 1 small minced garlic clove; pulse to combine.

Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the gratin, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. You'll have 4, 1-cup servings of 230 calories - but this doubles easily for a large crowd!

Conveniently, this is also a snap to make in advance. Prepare the gratin up to a day ahead, and refrigerate (refrigerate the breadcrumb mixture separately, and sprinkle on the gratin just before baking). The only difference is that you'll increase the baking time to 30 minutes, still at 400 degrees, to make sure that it is heated all the way through.

kabocha squash $7.88
leek $1.47
plain soy milk $2.49
vegan cheese $3.39
parsley $1.69

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance