Butternut Squash Gratin

As far as I'm concerned, winter has only one positive: layering. Layers of clothing that hide the squishy body you're hiding beneath, thanks to all the heavy, soul-warming food you tend to eat once the weather turns cold. You wouldn't know it from looking at him, but fitness freak Josh Charles, chef of Element, can throw down with some comfort food.

This is a butternut squash gratin, topped with crispy mushrooms and a bright (both in color and flavor) herb and pumpkin seed sauce, presented two ways. You can plate it restaurant style or you can just make the fanciest looking casserole you've ever seen. Your call.

The dish works as a side or by itself, and the gratin and sauce can both be made the day ahead. Serve with a green salad tossed in nice vinaigrette.


butternut squash gratin

by Josh Charles

Butternut Squash Gratin

Yield: 1 casserole


2 butternut squash
2 russet potatoes
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup grated parmesan
1 pc nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup mint leaves
2 cup parsley
1 lime(juiced)
3 heads roasted garlic
4 cups chanterelle (or shiitake) mushrooms



Peel butternut squash and potatoes. Cut both in half long ways
Slice on mandolin or knife into thin pieces. Place in mixing bowl. Toss in bowl with cream, parmesan, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Layer in a greased casserole pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 30 minutes, rotate and put back in for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 300 and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately or let cool then refrigerate until ready to serve

 If reheating preheat  oven to 300 and warm for 20 minutes

mint+pumpkin seed sauce

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Blanch herbs for 15 seconds in boiling water. Immediately ice bath, and place in strainer. Place pumpkin seeds, herbs, garlic, and juice of lime in blender. Puree on high speed for 1 minute or until smooth. Reserve in squeeze bottle or in airtight container

For the Mushrooms

Clean off any excess dirt with a brush. Pull apart with hands to make even size pieces. Preheat skillet to medium high heat, add a thin layer of cooking oil and add mushrooms. Cook stirring every minute or so for 8 minutes. Add a heaping tablespoon of butter along with fresh thyme and salt to taste. Continue to cook for 1 minute while stirring frequently. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and let sit on dry piece paper towel. Reserve for serving

Putting it all together

Remove gratin from oven. Place cooked mushrooms right on top. Add spoonfuls or dots of sauce on top. Garnish with a couple fresh mint sprigs