Butternut Squash Gratin
by Iona Berry
Most of us grew up with meat as the hero of our meals and with vegetables taking up the mere corners of our plates. It can be hard to know where to start if you're trying to flip the script and cook plant based meals that don’t feel like just eating a plate full of sides. Building an exciting, yet satisfying meal around vegetables - whether that’s a bunch of carrots or a humble head of cauliflower - can sometimes feel like a little daunting and underwhelming task.
Our new series, Veg and Two Veg is here to tackle just that and to explore all of the ways in which every day vegetables can be the star of the table without sacrificing flavour or heartiness. Whether you’re cooking for one or cooking for a bunch, these recipes will fill your table with vibrant, deeply flavoured and satisfying dishes that you’ll be making on repeat.
This bubbling and crispy butternut squash gratin is the ultimate comfort food that will be sure to impress your dinner guests. It’s creamy and rich but the perfect balance alongside the sweet butternut squash.
This is the kind of dish to bring out to people who think they can’t enjoy a meal without cheese. It’s rich from the plant based cream, tons of flavour from mustard and alongside the crunchy breadcrumb topping, no one will miss a thing. I do highly recommend using a mandolin to slice the butternut squash as this creates perfectly sized pieces (that will cook evenly) but this could also be done with a knife if that is all you have available. I used Elmlea’s plant based cream but I am confident that the sauce would work with other varieties including oat or soy based creams. I love to serve this gratin alongside a fresh green salad in a wholegrain mustard dressing, which can cut through the richness and make a delicious accompaniment.
2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil
1 small butternut squash (400g), thinly sliced on a mandolin
½ tsp salt
1 clove of garlic, sliced
175ml plant based double cream
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp white miso paste
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil
10g chives, chopped
Pinch of salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan/200˚C conventional.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, over medium heat.
Add the sliced butternut squash and the salt to the pan, and sauté them for 7-8 minutes, until they are beginning to go soft but still have a little bit of texture (you can use a knife to check the texture but be careful not to damage the pan).
Add the sliced garlic and continue to sauté for 2 more minutes. Transfer the butternut squash into a small dish and set it aside while you prepare the sauce.
In a small saucepan whisk together the miso, mustard, plant based cream and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes.
To make the crunchy panko topping, heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add the panko breadcrumbs and salt and pepper to the pan and stir frequently until they are a deep golden brown 5-6 minutes on a medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir through the chopped chives.
To assemble the gratin, add the butternut squash to the bottom of your baking dish. Flatten the squash slightly and then pour over all of the sauce. Finish by topping generously with the panko topping.
Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling. Leave to stand for 5-10 minutes before eating.
By Iona Berry
Iona is our Development Chef, aka our go-to girl for developing, testing and tasting delicious dishes for you to all enjoy at home. When she’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find her either running or cycling, or trying out food markets and new restaurants around London. Continuous market research it would seem.