Meatless Monday: Apple, Leek, and Butternut Squash Gratin

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I've decided to start off January by getting organized and putting together a 1 month meal plan. I was inspired by Simple Mom's menu planning guide, which I stumbled upon in a round-a-bout way by starting with her 20 Questions for a New Year’s Eve Reflection download, finding her grocery list download, and then backtracking to the menu planning info.

The system is pretty easy, because you actually only plan for 2 weeks and then you repeat the menus for the following 2 weeks. I love the idea of cooking intentionally, planning to use some of our oh-so-many pantry items, and trying out some new stuff. I've also tried to look for healthy options, including some from my Weight Watchers cookbook and trying to be mindful of calories on all the rest. I'm excited about trying the new recipes - I'm so tired of doing stir-fry as my go-to!! For the next two weeks, I only put in one recipe I've tried before. Hopefully these are good; otherwise they may get dropped from the 2nd rotation.

I planned Fridays as our "dine out" night, and 2nd and 4th Mondays I'm calling "fend night" because I have Toastmasters after work on those nights. And, I can tell already I'm probably going to need to plan in "leftovers" nights at some point, since everything I'm making is more than 2 servings. I'm trying to be good and bring the leftovers for lunch (and convince John to eat leftovers, another challenge for another day...!).

I'll document carefully and let you know how the recipes come out. Look for many more posts to follow, since I'll be building up a database.

Apple, Leek, and Butternut Squash Gratin
Adapted from this recipe on Whole Living.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium leeks, white part only, trimmed of roots and tough outer leaves, thinly sliced crosswise, well washed and dried
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup dry sherry *
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus leaves for garnish
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced 1/8-inch thick**
1 pound apples, such as Gala, Cortland, Baldwin, or Macoun, peeled, halved, cored, and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices ***
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

* This is where the "adapted" comes in... I could have sworn I had some cooking sherry but when I got back from the grocery and started cooking, discovered I didn't. I substituted a bit of cheap Cabernet Sauvignon (less than the 1/2 cup of sherry called for, probably 1/3 cup?), added a capful of Vanilla Extract and a couple of splashes of Balsamic Vinegar.
** This wound up just being the neck of my butternut squash; I peeled and deseeded the body and saved that to be a side on one of the upcoming meals
*** About 3 medium-smallish apples


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a 10-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add leeks and 2 tablespoons water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add sherry and sage and cook until liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 3 minutes; set aside.

2. In a 2-quart shallow baking dish, arrange squash in overlapping layers; season with salt and pepper. Spread leeks evenly over the squash.

3. Arrange apples in an overlapping layer over the leeks. Brush apples with remaining tablespoon oil. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 45 minutes.

4. Uncover and sprinkle cheese over the top. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is golden brown. The tip of a paring knife should easily pierce the gratin. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with sage leaves.

The verdict? Pretty tasty! Hard to describe... different from anything I've ever had before, but surprisingly good. And, John is willing to keep this recipe in for round 2, so that's a pretty good testament. I need to be sure to buy the cooking sherry for next time so we can see how it stacks up!


ljensen555 said...

My friend, you are an inspiration! I wish I could be as dedicated to cooking as you are. (By the way I can't spell!)God, I wish I would make the time to cook rather than eat whatever John puts in front of me. I'm going to try, because this dish looks amazing!Plus, I'd probably lose a few pounds if I did! Thanks for your wondeful receipes!!! ~lauren

Monica said...

Hye there! this food sounds wonderful on all front: delicious and healthy!
The Hub is about to launch Wellness Wednesdays......... would you consider sharing your blog on the Hub?

C-Rella said...

Hi Monica!

I'd be interested but would like to know more. Looks like your profile info is set to "private" so I can't contact you. Can you send me your contact info (mine is cabaute at gmail dot com) and/or the link for The Hub?


Anonymous said...

I think this looks delicious! I love your blog topics, and wish I had the motivation to cook the way you do!


Julia Smith said...

These pictures are so lovely and delicious-looking! I can smell the aroma from all the way down here in Texas!

I'm so glad you are blogging again.

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