This dish is really good. I mean, reallllllllllly good. If I were hosting Thanksgiving this year, I’m pretty sure it would make it on the menu.
I wanted to take pictures of the leftovers the following day when I had some natural light, but that plan went out the window when I decided to top the leftovers with an egg and call it (a damn good) breakfast.
I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for quite some time, but had to wait until it was this time of year again and butternut squash was again in season to make it. It absolutely did not disappoint. This gratin tastes sort of like a chili relleno in casserole form, which is good news for me. It has some earthiness and spice from the poblano peppers, a little sweetness from the squash, gooeyness (official foodie term) from cheese, and crunch from the toasted pepitas.
My market did have farmer cheese, but it was only sold in a 1 lb. package, so I decided to just use queso fresco, since I had no plans for the remaining farmer cheese. Really, many blends of cheese would work here, and the goat cheese Carrie used would be really lovely, no doubt.
This is not a particularly healthy dish but you can make it slightly less horrible, which I did. I used whole milk in place of cream, reduced the amount of olive oil (by a lot) and cheese (by a little), used a 2% Colby Jack, and light sour cream.
The result was one of my absolute favorite side dishes (and breakfasts), though I have no doubt that adding a can of black beans to this would make for a fantastic vegetarian meal, too.
Butternut Squash and Poblano Gratin
2 large or 3 medium poblanos (about 3/4 lb. total)
1 (2 lb.) butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and sliced 1/2″ thick
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp. chopped thyme, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk
scant 1/2 cup sour cream (light is fine) or creme fraiche
3 oz. Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
3 oz. queso fresco or farmer cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds/pepitas (I just do this in a dry skillet, over medium heat, until they are fragrant)
Preheat the oven to 400. Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning, until they are charred all over. Transfer the chilies to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean dishtowel until they are cool enough to handle. Peel the skins off, then stem and seed the chilies and cut into thin strips.
Toss the butternut squash with 1 Tbsp. of the oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp. of the thyme. Roast in the oven until tender, about 25 minutes, turning the sheet once midway through.
Increase the oven temperature to 425.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, oregano, and remaining 1/4 tsp. thyme. Saute for 5 minutes and then add the poblano strips and cook until they are very tender, about 5 more minutes. Add the cream/milk and simmer until thickened.
Remove the pan from the heat, and add the sour cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon half the poblano mixture into a baking dish and top with half the roasted squash. Sprinkle on half of the cheese. Repeat the layers.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until gratin is golden and bubbly. Let rest for 10 minutes and top with toasted pepitas before serving.