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Butternut Squash Gratin with Mescal-Marinated Dates Recipe

Staff Writer


Slices of butternut squash are cooked in heavy cream and vanilla until nearly fork-tender and baked together with alternating layers of walnuts and mescal-soaked dates for a unique and unforgettable side dish.

Click here to see A Mexican-Inspired Holiday Dinner.

Deliver Ingredients


  • 1 1/2 quart heavy cream
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 cup mescal
  • 8 dates, pitted and quartered
  • 1 cup walnuts


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the heavy cream and vanilla beans in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, taking care not to let the cream boil over. Add the butternut squash in small batches and cook until 75-percent cooked, about 7 minutes per batch. Drain and reserve the cream.

Warm the mescal in a small pot for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl. Soak the dates in the warm mescal for 20 minutes.

Cover the bottom of an ovenproof dish with a single layer of butternut squash, making sure they all face the same direction. Then top with the walnuts, dates, and a few ladles of the heavy cream. Create the next layer in the same fashion, but arrange the squash slices perpendicular to the first (create a crisscross pattern). Repeat the process about 4 times or until all of the ingredients are used. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.

Butternut Squash Shopping Tip

Look for vegetables that are firm and bright in color – avoid those that are wilted or have wrinkled skins, which are signs of age.

Butternut Squash Cooking Tip

Different vegetables have different cooking times – cook each type separately and then combine.