Cardamom-spiced butternut squash gratin [Recipe]

Cardamom-spiced butternut squash gratin [Recipe]

In wintertime, nothing quite rivals the warming taste of a gratin. The word gratin comes from French and refers to the golden brown, crunchy topping that defines the entire dish, which is usually baked. But, wait! We’ve found a shortcut. In this recipe, you’ll push the definition of the gratin by cooking the vegetables, mixing them with a spiced béchamel and simply topping them with a layer of crunchy, pan-browned panko breadcrumbs. No baking necessary, chefs! You’ll get the same rich, hearty, full-flavored dish in less time.

Makes 2 servings; about 650 calories per serving


  • ½ cup red quinoa
  • ½ bunch curly kale
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 leek
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 2-ounce packet coconut cream powder
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons almonds
  • 1 teaspoon squash gratin spice blend (ground cardamom, saffron powder and cayenne pepper)


1. Cook the quinoa.

Heat two large pots of salted water to boiling on high. Once the first pot of water is boiling, add the quinoa. Cook, stirring occasionally, 18 to 20 minutes, or until tender; drain thoroughly and set aside.

2. Prepare the ingredients.

While the quinoa cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce. Separate the kale stems and leaves; discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Peel and halve the butternut squash lengthwise; scoop out and discard the seeds. Dice the squash into medium pieces. Trim off and discard the roots and upper, dark-green leaves of the leek; halve the leek lengthwise and rinse thoroughly, keeping the layers intact. Dice the leek into small pieces. Peel and mince the ginger. Roughly chop the almonds. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut cream powder and half cup of hot water; whisk until thoroughly combined.

3. Cook the butternut squash.

While the quinoa continues to cook, add the butternut squash to the second pot of boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, 7 to 9 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly and set aside. Rinse out the pot.

4. Toast the nuts and breadcrumbs.

While the squash cooks, heat a small, dry pan on medium until hot. Add the almonds and toast, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pan. In the same pan used to toast the nuts, toast the breadcrumbs on medium, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

5. Make the spiced béchamel.

In the same pot used to cook the squash, heat two tablespoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the ginger, leek and spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until the leek is tender and the spices are fragrant. Add the flour; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined. Add the coconut cream mixture and three quarters of a cup of water. Cook, stirring frequently, 4 to 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

6. Assemble the casserole.

Stir the kale, toasted almonds and golden raisins into the spiced béchamel. Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the kale has wilted. Stir in the cooked quinoa and squash. Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until well combined. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Top with the toasted breadcrumbs. Enjoy!