First the creamy sauce is made, with some ever-useful cauliflower as the base. Keep adding and adjusting the amount of chicken stock until the sauce reaches a runny texture, so that it is easy to drizzle over everything in the pan. The rich, smooth sauce provides its own savory deliciousness to the dish, acting as the binder.
Next the other components of the gratin are lightly cooked, including the butternut squash and the spinach. Then the fun layering process starts. I spread a little bit of the sauce over the bottom of the dish to prevent the next layer, half of the squash, from sticking. Next is half of the spinach mixture, and then all of the thinly sliced sweet potato. Then you get to drizzle about half of the creamy sauce over everything. Continue with more spinach and finally the remaining squash. I had a lot of sauce left over so that went on the top of the gratin as well.
I realize that some gratins slice the top layer of vegetables very thinly, which always look very nice. However, sometimes you lose your mandolin (guilty) or you buy the pre-cut butternut squash at the store (guilty again). As it turns out, the gratin still tastes as good, and the top still gets brown and crispy, so don’t worry if you didn’t get that 1/8-inch slice on the squash.
This creamy, comforting butternut squash gratin is great for serving a crowd. It would also make a good recipe to file away as a side dish for Thanksgiving. Pack more vitamin A and C into dinner with this colorful, wholesome gratin.
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
- 6 cups fresh spinach
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pinch of nutmeg
- For the sauce
- 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. To make the cream sauce, place a couple inches of water in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, place steamer insert and then cauliflower florets into the pot and cover. Steam for 12-14 minutes, until completely tender. Drain and return cauliflower to the pot. Add the almond milk, stock, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to the pot. Use an immersion blender or food processor to combine the ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Add the butternut squash and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft. Stir in the spinach to wilt. Season with salt and pepper.
- To assemble, grease a large baking dish with coconut oil spray. Spoon a thin layer of the cream sauce over the bottom of the pan. Arrange a layer of half of the butternut squash. Top with half of the spinach mixture, and then all of the sliced sweet potato. Drizzle with the cream sauce. Add the remaining half of the spinach, followed by the rest of the butternut squash. Drizzle the rest of the cream sauce over the top. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bake for 50-60 minutes until browned. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.