The first time I made gratin, it was a potato gratin. It was layered with gruyere, potatoes and heavy cream. Needless to say, as a measly 8th grader, I was horrified by the smell of the gruyere baking for 3 hours. The entire house smelled pungently of cheese, and I refused to taste the finished dish because to my unsophisticated nose the gratin smelled… ugh! My mother assured me that it was delicious, but I was certain my mom would think anything I made was delicious so I didn’t believe her.
Since, I tried a variety of different gratins, using more or less cream and different types of cheese. I’ve grown to like the delicate layers of vegetables baked until meltingly tender and delicious with a golden crust of cheese. However, my rapidly increasing sized bottom multiplied by the long hours I spend in the library have lead me to believe that a decrease in cheese and cream is necessary. So I developed a lighter and slightly sweeter gratin that uses just enough cream to keep it together and just enough cheese to get a golden crust.
Butternut Squash and Onion Gratin
- 1 small butternut squash; halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 sweet onion; halved and sliced thinly
- 1 small bunch of fresh parsley; fined chopped (you may use basil, tarragon, or any other blend of herbs)
- 1 tablespoon of butter, melted and cooled
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
- 1 cup of finely shredded Parmesan cheese (or any dry, hard cheese that you like)
- Butter baking dish. I used two nested Le Creuset stoneware, one that is 4 by 9 and the other is probably 3 by6.
- Whisk cream, salt, mustard, and parsley together
- Lay discs of butternut squash flat on the bottom of the dish
- Then alternate butternut squash and slices of onion
- Using a small spoon, spoon the cream and parsley over the layers and top with cheese
- Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until bubbly and delicious
(My final product, obviously, is over baked. I got wrapped up in cleaning my apartment and forgot to check on my gratin. It was still delicious, but I recommend baking with a timer to avoid my mishap)