Real Food: Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin

by Anne Bennett on November 12, 2009

Potatoes au gratin is a classic holiday side dish that, while delicious, is packed with heavy cream and grated cheese. (Of course it’s delicious. Why did I even have to say that?) In response to the low-fat diet craze that sprang up in the early 1990’s, Julia Child remarked that she would rather have one small scoop of real potatoes gratin than a whole plateful of the ersatz version made with skim milk, and I have to admit that I agree with her. Gratins made with skim milk have a thin, watery consistency that leaves you craving the richest ice cream immediately after dinner. Why bother?

Here, from Martha Rose Shulman’s column in the Health section of the New York Times, is a pretty great compromise: adding some butternut squash to the potato mixture and using low-fat milk instead of either cream or skim milk. It works. True, it’s not as creamy-rich as the original, but it hits the mark as a comfort-food-without-the-guilt.


1 garlic clove, cut in half
1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes*, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/4 pounds butternut squash*, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 t. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 t. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 tightly packed cup of grated Gruyere cheese (4 oz.)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups low-fat milk

(*You can use Yukon Gold potatoes and/or any winter squash)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub inside of a 2-quart gratin dish with the cut side of the garlic, and spray with nonstick spray. Chop the remaining garlic and layer with the potatoes, squash, thyme, rosemary, half the cheese and a generous amount of salt and pepper in an even layer in the gratin dish.

Pour the milk over the potatoes and squash and press the vegetables down into the milk. Bake for one hour. Every 20 minutes remove the dish and press the mixture into the milk with the back of a spoon. After one hour, sprinkle on the remaining cheese and bake for another 15 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the sides look crusty. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves: 6

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Amy November 12, 2009 at 10:35 am

Thisa looks delicious..wonder if hubby would approve of squash in his favor ite potato dish??

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