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!

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 55 mins
Total: 1 hr 15 mins

Apple, Butternut Squash, and Leek Gratin

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A super simple yet divine side perfect for cozy fall dinners or even your Thanksgiving table.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.
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