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Onion and Kabocha Squash Gratin

Onion and Kabocha Squash Gratin


Another venture into the lighter, healthier side! While cruising the winter squash display at my local market, I found this attractive kabocha Sweetmamasquash_1squash, which is also known as a Japanese squash or as Sweet Mama (as the Québécois import I used was labeled). This 6" diameter squash is a pleasant alternative to the familiar butternut. It has sweet, incredibly smooth flesh which looks like orange sherbert when cut, and no hint of fibrousness. The green striated skin looks tough as nails but in fact is thin and is easily removed with a regular vegetable peeler.

This gratin, adapted from a butter-heavy butternut version by Jacques Pepin, combines onions and herbs nicely with the squash and the crunch of the topping is a pleasant addition. Pepin used rosemary in his preparation, which is a very good pairing with the onions, but oregano or thyme works well too.

Onion and Kabocha Squash Gratin

2 lb kabocha (Sweet Mama) squash, peeled and cut in 1/2" chunks
3 T + 1 T butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 C low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 C panko flakes
1/2 C unflavored breadcrumbs
2 T minced fresh herbs (rosemary, oregano or thyme work well)
1/4 C Parmeggiano Reggiano
salt, hot sauce, to taste

Sauté the onions in the 3 tablespoons of butter on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent. Add the squash and cook another five minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and hot sauce.

Spread the squash mixture into a buttered baking dish, pour in the broth and bake, covered, in a preheated 350º oven, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and mix it with the crumbs and panko to moisten. Stir the herbs into the breadcrumb mixture.

Raise the oven temperature to 400º. Spread the breadcrumb mixture over the squash mixture and scatter on the cheese. Bake another 15 - 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crumb crust is starting to brown. Serve immediately.


1. Butternut squash can be substituted for the kabocha.
2. If a richer dish is preferred, substitute 1/2 cup heavy cream for half the broth, and dot the crust with butter before baking.


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I just bought a beautiful Carnival squash at the farmers market yesterday, and also just bought panko for the first time this week. I think this recipe is calling me.

Am I correct that you don't roast the squash first? That's odd. Maybe an adaptation would be needed with the Carnival squash, but I'm up for it.

Thanks, Stephen.

Hi Stephen, Kabocha Squash is one of my favorites too. I made (and posted about) a kabocha squash cheesecake over the Thanksgiving weekend. Great idea here, I'm considering what to do with my extra puree.

Someone gave me a kabocha squash, and I was looking up recipes and came across your post. WOW!! This was phenomenal! Thanks for sharing! I posted a review with a link to your post over on my blog :)

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