Winter Squash and Feta Gratin
There's something almost magical about the pairing of sweet orange winter squash with salty Mediterranean cheeses like feta and Italian parmesan. Baked until the edges brown in the heat, this gratin works equally well as a side dish or a light main course, hot or warm.
|2kg (4½lb)||winter squash (pumpkin will do, but butternut, red kuri, crown prince or onion squash are much better)|
|150g (5oz)||feta, drained and chopped or crumbled|
|75g (3oz)||freshly grated Parmesan|
|3 tbsp||extra-virgin olive oil|
|Salt and freshly ground black pepper|
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Halve the squash if it is a whole one, then remove the fibrous mass of seeds. Cut into long slices about 2.5–4cm (1–1½in) thick. You can cut the skin from the slices now, or after the initial cooking, which I think is marginally easier and quicker. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, then add the squash slices (you may have to cook them in two batches). Bring back to the boil and then simmer for about 5–10 minutes, until the flesh is just tender (but not soggy). Drain thoroughly, then remove the skin, if you haven’t already.
Use a generous knob of the butter to grease a shallow ovenproof dish (I use a 35cm/14in gratin dish). Arrange the squash in it, scattering the crumbled feta over the squash as you go. Dot with the remaining butter, then season with salt and plenty of pepper. Mix the Parmesan with the breadcrumbs and scatter evenly over the squash. Drizzle the olive oil over the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning the dish around half-way through cooking if necessary, until evenly browned and crisp on top. Serve hot or warm.