We’re now in the season a chef I know calls “root-vegetable hell,” unless you want your greens to log more air miles than we can only dream of right now. I always have good intentions when it comes to cabbage, but the follow-through tends to be weak. Squash sometimes gets overlooked, too, which is silly, so here’s my remedy for
that: gratin of butternut squash. (The name comes from the crust that forms on the top; some recipes call for breadcrumbs or cheese, but that doesn’t add anything significant enough to bother with—the squash does its own good work on top. On the other hand, the grated red pepper adds a nice touch of extra flavor and texture.)
Prepare the squash by slicing in half from top to bottom, scoop out the seeds, and peel with a potato peeler—simply peel away the tan outer skin till you reach the orange flesh, then slice thin and cut into small squares.
1 squash, about 2 pounds, peeled, seeded and
cut into ¼-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, seeded and grated or chopped fine
a generous pinch of salt
a couple of grindings of black pepper
4 Tbsp flour
6 Tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F /170 degrees C.
Place the cubes of squash and the red pepper in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss them in the flour until they are evenly coated. Generously oil the bottom and sides of an ovenproof earthenware casserole. Fill it with the squash mix. Sprinkle the remaining oil over the surface. Cook in the oven, uncovered, for 2 hours or until the top has formed a rich dark crust.