Saturday, January 1, 2011

Kabocha is Squashspeak for “I Love You”

New Year’s Eve used to be my third most hated holiday.* But Beth has changed all that. New Year’s Eve is our anniversary!

I love Beth more than I can explain to you. I love the complement between her formidable intellect and her capacity for abject silliness. We laugh together every single day.

I love her giant heart: I have never met anyone who works as hard as Beth does to understand herself, to take responsibility for her actions, to extend a hand of compassion to others.

I love the fact that, though she’s a little tiny thing, she can eat an entire New York strip in a sitting. My baby can put the steak away, aww yeah.

So of course I made a steak for her on our special day. And there had to be something good to go with it. Bread? Pah! Baked potato? Fwuh! My girl loves squash. Imma make her some kabocha gratine.

Oh, kabocha. It is the most fine-grained, sweet, and creamy vegetable you could ever hope to meet. Its Crayola-colored rind peels away to reveal carrot-orange flesh streaked with green, yellow, and red. Can you resist sneaking a raw bite? It is crisp and sugary as a carrot, too.

Layer the slices in a baking dish and cover them with velvety cheese sauce, and you have decadence incarnate. The squash bakes to melting tenderness in a surprisingly short amount of time. The gratine is unctuous and rich, bathing the senses in deep flavors and smooth texture. Want to render your lover speechless with pleasure? Just slip a few spoonfuls of this onto her plate.

*After Christmas and Valentine’s Day. We fixed Christmas, but we still hate Valentine’s Day.

Kabocha Gratine with Four Cheeses

The remains of our Sparklemas cheese plate went into the sauce. More fun than the traditional Swiss!

A kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced
¼ cup (half a stick) butter
2 T flour
1 c milk or cream
1 c grated/shredded/mangled cheese, divided. I used scraps of chevre, Manchego, Parmesan; and mostly mozzarella. Swiss would have been better than mozzarella, but that’s what I had.
A dash of fresh-ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange the squash slices in one layer, slightly overlapping them so the bottom of the pan is covered.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and sift in the flour. Whisk until smooth. Pour in the milk or cream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick—right before the liquid comes to the boil. Take the pan off the heat and stir in ¾ cup of cheese. The sauce should be thick and the cheese completely melted. Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the squash, taking care to cover it up well. Put the pan in the oven and bake until bubbly and browned, about 30 minutes. The squash should be tender. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and put back in the oven until melty and toasty, another 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve to acclaim.


  1. f there is a Hallmark card for it, I hate it. But I looooooove kabocha squash (this looks fantabulous-o).
    And I love you two!
    xo Andrea

  2. Andrea, we love you right back. Smooooooooch!


    I want to eat it everyday. This recipe looks delish!

  4. Kim, kabocha loves YOU and it wants you to eat it every day.

  5. If you make me this gratine, I will love you as much as I love Beth!!! ;) Mikey...

  6. Hmmmm.... that just might be worth it.


Thanks for your comments - nothing scatological, please. If you wouldn't bring it in the kitchen, please don't say it here.