Host Post for Culinary Smackdown: Battle Winter Squash

I've been submerging myself into fall.  We carved pumpkins (mine was the witch); I've been eating farmer's market apples; I have even been cooking cool-weather inspired foods like Maple Glazed Acorn Squash, Whipped Sweet Potatoes, and Homemade Roast Beef.  I think I've just about had my fall fill and am almost ready move onto Thanksgiving planning and Christmas decorating. 

(Full disclosure:  Melissa and I completed a Christmas craft on Saturday night.  We bought some kits at the craft store to build a miniature Penguin Ski Lodge and a miniature Sleigh for Santa.  I will show pics when everyone else's holiday excitement catches up with mine.)

(Oh, and one more thing:  we listened to Christmas music while assembling them.)

Now, back to fall and the Culinary Smackdown.  This months theme--chosen by me--is Battle Winter Squash.  I decided to use some butternut squash that we grew in our garden this year to join in on the fun.

I've been holding onto our homegrown squash for several months trying to figure out what to do with it.  I wanted it to be something sort of special and it was also important to me to that the squash be the main ingredient. 

I decided to go with a Butternut Squash Gratin.  The caramelized onions combined with the soft butternut squash created a slightly sweet and creamy filling.   The crumb topping (which I made with gluten free bread and fresh rosemary and thyme) was crunchy and aromatic.  The original recipe called for adding cheese to the topping but I'm glad I omitted it.  Instead, I drizzled a few tablespoons of olive oil over the bread crumbs to help them brown in the oven.  Trust me--skip the cheese. 

This recipe can be easily adapted to work with whatever is plentiful at the farmer's market this fall.  If you think this sounds (and looks!) good, how does squash and parsnips sound with a sage crumb topping? I hope your entries are good--because I think I set the bar high! 

(Recipe for Butternut Squash Gratin at the bottom of this post). 

A recap of the rules:

1.  Prepare a sweet or savory dish that has an edible winter squash as the main flavor ingredient.

2.  Share at least 1 photo of your completed dish(es) on your blog and include as much description about this dish as you'd like.  You do not need to include an exact recipe--I will trust you on the ingredients--but recipes are always nice in case the readers would like to make it for themselves.

3.  Creativity will help you stand out from the other entries!

4.  The deadline for sharing your creation is Monday, October 31 at 11:59pm.  This is my "host post," so link your submission in the comments section and I will visit your posts on Tuesday, November 1 to choose a winner.   Check back here in a few days for the announcement!

Butternut Squash Gratin
adapted from Bon Appetit via epicurious
serves 4-5 as a side dish

2 tbsp olive oil
1-1.5 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
1/3 cup chicken broth, canned or homemade
2-3 slices white bread, regular or gluten free
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt & pepper
2-3 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 x 8 square baking dish or similar size round oven-safe casserole dish and set aside.  In a heave skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and saute until light golden, about 8 minutes.  Add squash, saute 5 minutes.  Sprinkle 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper over mixture and stir. 

Place bread, rosemary, thyme, and a pinch of each salt & pepper in a food processor.  Pulse until bread is in small crumbs.  Set aside.

Spread vegetable mixture in baking dish.  Pour in chicken broth and cover tightly with foil.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Then remove dish from oven and increase oven heat to 400 degrees F.  Remove foil and spread bread crumb mixture over squash.  Drizzle bread crumbs with olive oil.   Return to oven uncovered and bake for 25-30 minutes, until bread crumbs are light brown and crispy and mixture is slightly bubbling at the edges. 


  1. Love your gratin! An excellent way to celebrate that squash from your garden.

    I'm up too (http://eggplanttogo.blogspot.com/2011/10/october-culinary-smackdown-battle.html). I'll be back tomorrow night to check out everyone's entries.

    Thanks again for hosting, Jen!

  2. I'm up! Barely made it but I'm here!


    Thanks for hosting and thanks for letting me put up this recipe--absolutely one of my favorites!

  3. This sounds delicious and I love and am jealous of those pumpkins!!

    And here is my entry: http://smallgirladventures.blogspot.com/2011/10/culinary-smackdown-battle-winter-squash.html

  4. I love those pumpkins!

    I'm up, too.


  5. Jen

    I'm a culinary smackdown lurker and participate from time to time via Intuitive Eggplant.

    So if you don't put cheese on it, is it still a gratin? bwahahaha It's whatever you want to call it. Whenever I think gratin, I always think potatoes, so this is a new way of thinking.

    I'm up at the Buzzkill
    with my entry.

    Looks like you have a fairly good turrn out and I look forward to seeing what everyone did. Thanks for hostessing.

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  7. Hello! I'm up with Butternut Squash Cupcakes. Like Buzz, I'm a lurker and previous constestant in other challenges.

    I didn't think I liked squash but after this challenge I'm thinking much differently about it. What fun. Thanks for hosting!

  8. I see frequent Smackdowner La Diva is up too!


  9. Well, I see I have disappearing comments again! I DID say I was up several hours ago but then my service went down again til now....grrrr....

    I'm up with a TWO-FER for Battle Winter Squash!

    I like the idea of a gratin. Wonder what the cheese was? Gruyere? I'd like it with the cheese for a fancier dinner and without for a lower calorie option. Either way, sounds deelish!

    Thanks for hosting, Jen, and good luck to all!

  10. I'm SO PLEASED you all participated! I will check out all of the entries tomorrow, and I've even decided to throw in a PRIZE for the winner!

  11. Looks like I missed the deadline, just remembered this AM. Good luck to everyone. The recipes look amazing!

  12. Thanks for entering, everyone. And Diva, the original recipe called for sharp cheddar mixed in with the breadcrumbs. Might be interesting?


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!