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Step Away From the Holiday Leftovers
Between the Christmas cookies, the deluge of desserts, and gifts of candies, fruitcake or panforte – my two favorites for JanFeb breakfasts — it is probably advisable to introduce a vegetable here and there. I must say the Italians introduce them in the nicest way possible, even though fields are frostbitten, and pale imitations of summer vegetables stare back at us in the grocery stores. This gratin of butternut, kabocha squash or pumpkin is mixed with radicchio to create an easy-to-achieve roasted dish that can be served with whatever protein odds and ends you have in your fridge. This recipe is from an Italian food magazine, Sale & Pepe, which unfortunately does not have an English translation online. It is the same source of this lush Italian answer to our tomato aspic
Advice And Tools
I have found that “Y” shaped peelers are the easiest for shaving the hard outer peel of winter squashes. Having disposed of four models from different sources, the one I liked best is no longer manufactured, so I have purchased this version from Microplane and will report back. Other designs that have the similar “Y” configuration vary in durability and blade sharpness. Some have a uncomfortable handles or blades that pop out at inconvenient times. That said, there is usually a hard whiteish undercoat that I also get rid of via the same peeler. Once you have scraped out the seeds, then you can slice it into smaller pieces. Any type of gratin dish in metal, glass or ceramic will be good for this side dish.
On the radicchio, simply remove the outer leaves, halve it and then quarter it without coring it. The core will become soft and as delicious as the leaves. I used a light chicken stock, but a vegetable one based on carrots, celery, onions and bay leaf works well too and can be made in a bit more than 30 minutes.
- 350 grams 12oz peeled pumpkin, butternut or kabocha squash
- 2 heads of radicchio
- 1 red onion
- small handful fresh marjoram
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 sprigs fresh savory
- enough light chicken broth or vegetable broth to simmer the squash and onions
- 50 gr (1 1/2oz wt) grated parmigiano
- Slice the squash of your choice into smaller pieces, but not fine dice.
- Peel the onion, cut in half lengthwise and slice into half moons, and finely chop the fresh herbs.
- In a saute or sauce pan, pour about 4 tablespoons olive oil and heat the onions along with herbs for 5 minutes over low heat.
- Add the squash pieces and a ladle full of your broth. You want the mixture to be barely covered with broth.
- Preheat oven to just under 400F or 200C
- Cook covered for about 15 minutes, adding more broth if necessary.
- In a gratin dish (metal glass or ceramic will all work) pour a light film of olive oil over the base and add the squash pieces evenly,
- Nestle in or alternate with the quartered slices of radicchio, and then add some of the remaining enriched stock from the cooking of the onions and squash.
- Top with the Parmigiano and bake for about 15 minutes.
After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes a blog about food in all its aspects – recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food related issues.