BUTTERNUT AND SAUSAGE GRATIN WITH CRANBERRIES AND CHEDDAR

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pound bulk sweet sausage

1 tablespoon Dish off the Block Ciao Bella Italian Spice Blend

10-12 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1” cubes (or other winter squash such as acorn, delicata, etc…)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 ½ cups fresh cranberries

½ cup dried cranberries

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

¾ cup chopped walnuts

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons flour

1 pint heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and cook the onions and garlic until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the sausage and Italian seasoning and cook, breaking up the sausage with a spatula into small pieces until cooked through.

Coat a 9” x 13” with non-stick cooking spray.  Place the squash in in the pan and top evenly with the red pepper, fresh cranberries, and dried cranberries.  Season all over with the salt and pepper.  Top with the onion and sausage mixture followed by the walnuts and shredded cheddar.

Combine the flour and heavy cream in a large jar and shake to dissolve the flour.  Pour this mixture all over the top of the casserole, gently pushing the squash around with a fork so the cream can seep in evenly all over.

Bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is set and golden brown on top of the casserole.  Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes until bubbly and the squash is very tender when pierced with a fork.   Let set for 20-30 minutes before serving.  Garnish with parsley and devour!

Leftovers are delicious for breakfast (or brinner) with a fried egg on top!

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