Here's a perfect side dish for holiday gatherings, winter socializing, or simply for digging into on a cold night. The topping is arguably the best part, and a really great, gluten-free substitute for traditional bread crumbs. —Gena Hamshaw
For the gratin:
2 1/2 pounds
cubed butternut squash
large shallot, minced
cloves garlic, minced
almond or soy milk
brown rice flour (alternatively, you can use 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder or cornstarch)
Preheat your oven to 350° F and lightly oil a 9-inch square baking dish (or a 7- by 11-inch rectangular baking dish).
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the butternut squash. Boil for 15 minutes, or until all of the cubes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain the squash and set it aside.
Add the olive oil to a medium-sized sauce pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic. Swirl them around and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant but not burnt. Whisk in the almond or soy milk, lemon juice, and salt. Allow the milk to come to a low simmer. Whisk in the brown rice flour, one tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly. (Alternatively, add 1/4 cup hot water to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot powder and whisk thoroughly to create a slurry. Add the thickener to the hot milk, stirring it the whole time.)
Stir the sauce constantly until it has thickened up (it should be about the texture of alfredo sauce). Add more salt and black pepper to taste. Whisk in the 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Remove the sauce from heat and set it aside.
For the topping, place the almonds in a food processor and process until they resemble a coarse meal. Add the remaining topping ingredients and pulse to combine thoroughly. The mixture should be crumbly.
Place 1/3 of the sauce at the bottom of your baking dish and top with half the squash. Top the squash layer with another 1/3 of the sauce. Cover the sauce with the remaining squash, and cover the squash with the remaining sauce. (In other words, the layers are: sauce, squash, sauce, squash, sauce.) Top it all with the almond topping. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the gratin is bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Serve.
Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.