There’s something about the way we do gratin in Mauritius – Tastier than Michelin starred French restaurant gratin, I can guarantee you. And if you’re new to the blog, my heritage on my mum’s side is Mauritian – talk about winning the birth lottery, there! But back to our gratin – It’s just so good. One ingredient I use that’s different than the average Mauritian gratin is the cheese. It ain’t kraft processed cheese that’s for sure. Mauritius being a tiny developing country, has only until the last couple of decades, had Kraft processed cheese as their main cheese option. It’s still pretty much in every single family pantry. It’s not got much good stuff in it, including sulphur preservatives, fake colours and long life dairy, so we’re grateful today to be able to mix it up with a real Gouda, Cheddar or Emantel cheese – If you’re dairy free, just use a generous sprinkling of nutritional yeast for the topping. Fun fact? In Mauritian supermarkets, the Kraft processed cheese is often kept in a glass display case with a key. True story!
This is great as a side to a roast dinner, but in Mauritius we have big lunches of curries, rice, lentils, chutneys, spinach… So dinner tends to be quite light and it’s common to have a simple gratin as the evening meal with a little bread and butter to accompany it and a green leafy salad. If you’re grain free, just skip the bread or do a seedy / paleo bread instead. Personally, I just like it with a big rocket salad. I love the sweet pumpkin and the bitter rocket together as a combo.
So there you have it. I have a zucchini gratin too and if you were wanting a meaty accompaniment my lamb shoulder would be divine as lamb suits sweeter veggies in a pairing, big time, don’t you think?
Pop an instagram pic up if you think to @lowtoxlife #lowtoxlife – I’d love to see your kitchen coups!
Real Food Happy Bodies
Mauritian Pumpkin Gratin Recipe
- 1.5-2 kg chopped pumpkin chunks butternut, jap or kent or a mix. Roughly chopped into lychee-sized chunks, no need to be precious.
- 1 large purple onion, roughly fine chopped
- 4 stalks spring onions, rough chopped
- 40 g butter or ghee (or coconut oil / macadamia oil if dairy free)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 bunch parsley, fine chopped
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, fine squished
- 1 inch knob ginger, fine squished / chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 cup chicken stock or water
- 2 cups cheese (I know it sounds weird with the ginger, but trust me. It’s a Mauritian thing) OR dairy free OPTION: 1 cup Nutritional yeast flakes
What you need
- 1 large pot with a lid (a French oven style le creuset / le chasseur type pot or a big stainless steel heavy based one)
- Heat pot on medium stove. Fry the onion in the fats until well softened and golden, about 6-7 minutes. Then add the ginger, garlic, all the pumpkin, the chopped parsley, sprigs of thyme, spring onion and the stock into the pot and close the lid. Turn to low/medium heat and lift lid and move the pumpkin around every 5-8 mins about 3 times until it’s a bit mushy. The last time you do it leave the lid of, so that most of the liquid evaporates.
- Now pre heat oven to 180C / 350F
- Then mash it all roughly together once the pumpkin is well cooked – the aim is a very chunky mash, not a purée.
- Pour or scoop into a nice gratin dish / enamel or ceramic bakeware dish
- Scatter the yeast flakes or grated cheese over the top.
- Bake until the cheesy top is golden brown and serve.
- But it takes so much attention Alexx! No… Don’t be like that! This is very low key and really easy – yes you do have to check on it and stir the pumpkin to ensure even cooking… SO, I do this when I’m also cooking another meal and trying to get two meals ahead for easy planning, less time in kitchen in general mid-week. That way when you’re chopping and organising other bits, you take a little break, stir the pumpkin and then get back to what you’re doing. This is the gratin pre-topping. Look at that glorious colour would you? I want to lick the screen! I’m sorry to say I completely forgot to take a pic of her all done, so shall have to add that at a later stage?
Instead of chopping everything, you can blitz the parsley, garlic, spring onion, ginger together in a mini mixer or thermomix (you’ll need to double the batch to reach above the blades of the thermomix, but the great thing about that is you can freeze the other half for future Mauritian gratin efforts, because you’re gonna wanna – trust me!