Like Potatoes, Only Different: Pumpkin or Squash Gratin

Pumpkin and cheesy cream sauce folded together for the gratin.

Pumpkin and cheesy cream sauce folded together for the gratin.

Ruth Thurston in Machias has a huge collection of recipes, and a big bunch of them are for pumpkins. She is the source of this week’s answer to my question, “Whatever will I do with all the pumpkins I still have in storage?” That is, what besides pie, bread, soup, ice cream, or pudding?

When Ruth tried out this recipe, she used a butternut squash. I used an heirloom pumpkin called Long Pie; it grows looking for all the world like a zucchini but the skin turns orange in storage, and inside it shows a nice dark orange flesh.

About the gratin, Ruth wrote, “I think it would be good as a holiday side dish or a pot-luck contribution. I ate it as a main dish.” And we did, too, perfect for a dismal February night.

Since I needed enough for only two people, I halved the recipe below, except I used more grated cheese. A hard cheese is useful here—Romano, parmesan, manchego. I don’t remember now which sort mine was. After I have been grating it onto pasta, the wrapper disappears and after that, the little lumps in the fridge could be anything.

Ruth’s instructions recommend using a grater on the garlic. It is a good idea: I have been using a microplane for a long time now, and I think it is perfect for garlic. It creates a lovely puree and is easy to clean, but you sure do have to watch your finger tips, nails, knuckles, and all.

My pet microplanes make short work of grating garlic and Parmesan.

My pet microplanes make short work of grating garlic and Parmesan.

Essentially, this recipe calls for a béchamel, or cream sauce, to which you add the cheese and seasonings and then add that to steamed squash, top with crumbs and bake. Easy, really.

Pumpkin Gratin

3 pounds of pumpkin or butternut squash

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups hot milk

½ cup grated hard cheese

1 teaspoon powdered sage

½ teaspoon thyme

3 cloves of garlic, grated or pureed

Salt and pepper

Grated nutmeg to taste

Buttered bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and slice the squash or pumpkin into quarter-inch slices. Steam or microwave them until tender. Melt the butter and add the flour stirring and cooking over a medium heat until the mixture bubbles. Add the hot milk gradually, whisking to keep the sauce free of lumps. Add the cheese, and whisk again. Stir in the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, and nutmeg, cook together briefly, taste and adjust seasonings. Mix the sauce and pumpkin together and put into a buttered baking dish. Top with the buttered crumbs and bake for thirty to forty minutes until bubbly and golden.

Makes six to eight servings.

Looking for….. Butterscotch Brownies, but not just any old butterscotch brownies. Roberta Tarquinio in Harrington wrote asking for this recipe, and specified “moist and dense, with ‘cracked’ tops and no baking powder,” Roberta’s emphasis. If one of you has a baking powder-less butterscotch brownie recipe, we’d be so glad to see it and share it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth Thurston in Machias has a huge collection of recipes, and a big bunch of them are for pumpkins. She is the source of this week’s answer to my question, “Whatever will I do with all the pumpkins I still have in storage?” That is, what besides pie, bread, soup, ice cream, or pudding?

When Ruth tried out this recipe, she used a butternut squash. I used an heirloom pumpkin called Long Pie; it grows looking for all the world like a zucchini but the skin turns orange in storage, and inside it shows a nice dark orange flesh.

About the gratin, Ruth wrote, “I think it would be good as a holiday side dish or a pot-luck contribution. I ate it as a main dish.” And we did, too, perfect for a dismal February night.

Since I needed enough for only two people, I halved the recipe below, except I used more grated cheese. A hard cheese is useful here—Romano, parmesan, manchego. I don’t remember now which sort mine was. After I have been grating it onto pasta, the wrapper disappears and after that, the firm little lumps in the fridge could be anything.

Ruth’s instructions recommend using a grater on the garlic. It is a good idea: I have been using a microplane for a long time now, and I think it is perfect for garlic. It creates a lovely puree and is easy to clean, but you sure do have to watch your finger tips, nails, knuckles, and all.

Essentially, this recipe calls for a béchamel, or cream sauce to which you add the cheese and seasonings and then add it to steamed squash, top with crumbs and bake. Easy, really.

Pumpkin Gratin

3 pounds of pumpkin or butternut squash

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups hot milk

½ cup grated hard cheese

1 teaspoon powdered sage

½ teaspoon thyme

3 cloves of garlic, grated or pureed

Salt and pepper

Grated nutmeg to taste

Buttered bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and slice the squash or pumpkin into quarter-inch slices. Steam or microwave them until tender. Melt the butter and add the flour stirring and cooking over a medium heat until the mixture bubbles. Add the hot milk gradually, whisking to keep the sauce free of lumps. Add the cheese, and whisk again. Stir in the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, and nutmeg, cook together briefly, taste and adjust seasonings. Mix the sauce and pumpkin together and put into a buttered baking dish. Top with the buttered crumbs and bake for thirty to forty minutes until bubbly and golden.

Makes six to eight servings.

Looking for….. Butterscotch Brownies, but not just any old butterscotch brownies. Roberta Tarquinio in Harrington wrote asking for this recipe, and specified “moist and dense, with ‘cracked’ tops and no baking powder,” Roberta’s emphasis. If one of you has a baking powder-less butterscotch brownie recipe, we’d be so glad to see it and share it here.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.