This month, I’ll be posting all kinds of recipes for dishes that will be perfect for the holiday season, whether it’s for the main feasts or for entertaining family and friends or even to “make and take.”

The first dish … well … it’s so fabulous, I’m glad I’m sitting down as I write this.  And easy?  Chop, saute, assemble and bake.  That’s it.  It would make a great substitute for sweet potatoes at your Thanksgiving table or just a nice, easy mid-week dish when you’re running around like a mad person with your hair on fire.

Now, why Swiss chard?  Well, it’s a little bolder than spinach without being as bitter as kale, overpowering your squash.  I could sing a whole chorus about Swiss chard – how good it tastes, how easy it is to grow, how yummy it is when you simply steam it with a little salt and pepper, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Gratin

  • 1 butternut squash, peeped, seeded and sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch slices
  • 1 lb swiss chard, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil (or garlic-infused olive oil)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • grating nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Gorgonzola, cubed

Preheat oven to 200 and butter a 9×14 casserole dish

Steam the chard – by this, I mean let the chard soak in a sink full of water to wash it by agitating it a little, then letting it sit and any dirt will sink to the bottom.  Heat a large pan over high heat, drizzle a little olive oil into the hot pan, toss the wet chard in and let the steam do its work.  It will take longer to wilt than spinach would, so make sure you stir it around and get all the leaves coated with the oil and cooked down evenly.  Then, remove from heat, drain and let cool.

Lower the heat and use the same pan to saute the onion in a little oil with a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook until translucent.   While the onion is cooking, use a few squares of paper towel to squeeze the chard well, removing all the water you can.  Add the garlic to the onion and pepper flakes and give it a minute before adding the chard back to the pan, then season the mixture to taste and add the milk and the scraping of nutmeg, bringing the milk to the boil, then dropping to a simmer.  Once it’s thickened a little, you’re ready to build your gratin.

So, now … the construction.  Start with your squash and create a good, solid layer across the bottom of the dish, then dot with 1/3 of the chard, reapeating until you end with a final layer of the squash.  Pour any remaining milk mixture across the top, then cover tightly with foil and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook another 30 minutes, adding the cheese when you have about 15 minutes remaining.

And, believe it or not, leftovers the next day taste even BETTER. 

Gorgonzola and butternut squash - marriage made in HEAVEN!

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