Around this time of year I try to cook earthy, casserole-y type foods for those cold, it’s-dark-too-early nights. Pot roast, chili, stew and so on. But also side dishes I can make ahead and reheat so I don’t have to take much time to do the actual cooking on days when the evenings already seem too short.
Here’s one that pairs with most vegetarian, fish, poultry and meat dinners.
White Bean and Squash Gratin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup cooked white beans (drained, canned beans are fine)
1 cup mashed cooked winter squash (such as butternut or kuri)
1/4 cup half and half cream, coconut milk or soy milk
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup packed fresh bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and thyme and cook for about 3 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Spoon the mixture into a food processor. Add the beans and process until smooth and pureed. Spoon the mixture into a bowl. Add the squash, cream, egg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly to blend ingredients. Spoon the mixture into a baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the puree. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the gratin is hot. Makes 4-6 servings