I’m all about simplicity. And efficiency. And health (of course). And if simple, quick, healthy dishes also have a high WOW-factor, I’m totally in!
I created this simple pumpkin recipe almost by accident, but I’ve served it many times at dinner parties or just for the five of us. These pumpkin gratins look sophisticated but represent little work and are delicious, especially with meat or poultry.
All you need is pumpkin, parmesan, and a few herbs and spices of your choice. I usually use thyme, but parsley or cilantro work wonders too. It all depends on the main dish you’re serving it with.
No cream, butter, breadcrumbs, or any similar add-ons that won’t add anything to this recipe. These pumpkin gratins are just perfect in their simplicity.
Just one note: I’m lucky to find fresh pre-cut pumpkin at my organic market which makes it even quicker and easier to throw this dish together. But I know pre-cut pumpkins aren’t necessarily easy to find, so chances are you’ll have to cut a whole pumpkin for this recipe, making it a little more daunting to some. However, with a good knife and my tips below, cutting a pumpkin is way easier than it seems. And the good news is you can leave the skin on if you like (although peeling the pumpkin will give an extra creamy and smooth texture, I must admit).
Why is pumpkin healthy?
Pumpkin is part of the winter squash family including butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash. Just like other orange coloured vegetables, pumpkins are a very good source of carotenes, which are powerful antioxidants and good for your eyes and skin.
They’re also fairly high in vitamin C, and some of the B-vitamins. And of course they’re full of dietary fiber, which helps lower blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation.
How to cut a pumpkin
I have to admit I used to find pumpkins a bit intimidating. Some are just so huge and thick-skinned that cutting them into pieces is not exactly the battle I want to have at the end of a long day.
So here's my secret weapons when dealing with pumpkins:
- Use a good knife, and it will do the job for you.
And here’s how you cut and chop pumpkin:
- Dig the tip of your chef’s knife in the top centre of the pumpkin and push the handle down all the way through the pumpkin. With a good sharp knife this will be a piece of cake
- Using a tablespoon, remove all the seeds
- Now cut both halves to have 4 quarters
- Cut off top and tail.
- Cut into 2 cm strips.
- Cut into cubes.
45 min + 10 min grill
- 800 g (28 oz.) pumpkin flesh (buy pre-cut if you’re short on time)
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp. olive oil for baking
- Optional: 1 garlic clove or dried garlic
- Herbs and spices, choose from: thyme, cilantro, parsley, turmeric, cumin, curry powder, …
- Preheat the oven to 200° C (392° F).
- Peel and cut the pumpkin into cubes (see tips above).
- Spread the pumpkin evenly onto a baking tray lined with a baking sheet. Add the olive oil, pepper and salt and mix well.
- Bake for about 45 minutes until baked through.
- Place the pumpkin, 2 tbsp. parmesan, and the herbs and spices in a food processor and blend for a few minutes. Taste and add some salt, pepper, parmesan, or herbs if needed.
- In the meantime turn on your oven grill.
- Pour the mixture into small oven dishes and sprinkle with a fine layer of parmesan (about 1-2 tbsp. per person).
- Grill for about 10 minutes until the parmesan is golden brown. Keep an eye on them because they can burn easily.
- Serve warm on a separate small plate with a little spoon.
Tip: I usually make these ahead, and just grill them 10 minutes before serving.