Savory Squash Gratin


In this savory gratin, layers of acorn squash and kale are baked beneath a topping of bread crumbs and freshly grated Parmesan.


  • 7 cloves garlic, unpeeled

  • ½ teaspoon olive oil

  • 2 medium acorn squash, (about 1 ½ pounds each), halved crosswise and seeded

  • ½ pound kale, stems trimmed, large ribs removed

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

  • 2 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream

  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs

  • cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place garlic in an ovenproof ramekin, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast until light brown and very soft, about 20 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle; peel garlic and cut into slivers; set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.

  2. Peel squash, halve lengthwise, and seed. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices; set aside.

  3. Place kale in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover, and steam until bright green and wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and chop roughly. Squeeze out as much water as possible; set kale aside.

  4. Butter a 2 1/2-quart gratin dish. Distribute half the sliced squash in the dish, reserving the prettiest slices for the top layer. In a small bowl, combine nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Distribute half the sliced garlic over squash, and sprinkle with one-third of seasoning mixture and 1 teaspoon thyme.

  5. Arrange kale over squash, and sprinkle with one-third of the seasoning. Arrange remaining squash over kale, and sprinkle with remaining seasoning and 1 teaspoon thyme. Distribute remaining garlic over squash, tucking it between slices.

  6. Pour cream over assembled gratin, and cover with a piece of parchment. Bake until squash is soft when pierced with the tip of a knife, 40 to 45 minutes; halfway through the baking time, remove parchment, press down on squash with a spatula to compress and distribute the liquid; cover and continue baking. Meanwhile, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

  7. After 35 to 45 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over squash; return to oven, and continue to bake, uncovered, until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Garnish with remaining thyme.

  8. To reheat: Do not add final layer of breadcrumb mixture. Remove from the refrigerator, and let come to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes. Cover with parchment paper, and reheat in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes. Top with breadcrumb mixture, and bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with thyme.

Cook's Notes

This can be made early in the day and reheated just before serving.

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