As delicious as apple desserts can be, it is somewhat of a shame to drench all of those naturally-nutrition-packed bad boys in butter and sugar. So I found myself over on the Whole Living website (even while thinking about apple pie), and suddenly drooling over this recipe. And I put it on my list.
Butternut squash is hugely rich in beta carotene (Vitamin A) – and it tastes pretty great, too. The tart-sweet apples provide a perfect counter to the vitamin-rich squash, and the duo is joined deliciously by leeks, sage, and Parmesan. I love the simplicity of this recipe – with relatively few ingredients, each flavor shines, yet comes together perfectly.
Tastes great? Check. Healthy? Check. Now we can justify another slice of caramel apple upside down cake? Check!
Apple, Butternut Squash, and Leek Gratin
- 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 leeks (green portion cut off, washed well and cut into skinny lengthwise strips)
- 1/2 cup dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- One pound butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/8 inch rounds)
- One pound apples (I suggest McIntosh, Gala, or Macoun, peeled, cut in half, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick)
- 1 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium saute pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Add the leeks, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 - 12 minutes until they start to brown.
- Stir in the sherry and fresh sage, and continue cooking for about another 3 minutes, until the sherry has reduced.
- In a casserole dish (2 quart size preferably), lay all the butternut squash on the bottom. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the squash.
- Cover with the leeks.
- Lay the apples on the leeks. If, unlike me, you have an actual apple corer, you can probably make these look waaaay prettier.
- Brush the apples with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Sprinkle on the Parmesan.
- Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 45 minutes, or until the apples and squash are easily pierced with a fork.
- Increase the oven heat to 450 degrees. Uncover the dish, and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until top is nicely browned.
- Let cool for 5-10 minutes.