This Squash Gratin is Vegan, Gluten-Free & Very Good

October 29, 2015

Light and lovely as summer gratins are, there’s something satisfying about using a denser root vegetable for the base of a vegetable bake—and you won’t have to worry about anything getting overly watery as you bake it (zucchini, I’m looking at you).

But while traditional gratin is typically made with lots of dairy—cheese and cream and butter—and a breadcrumb topping, this one relies on a simple yet satisfying vegan sauce and an almond-based gluten-free topping.

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Aware of my own tendency to over-use cashews for all things creamy, I opted to make this more of a traditional white sauce, starting with some sautéed shallots and garlic and whisking in some almond milk.

To thicken the sauce, you can use flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder—whatever you have at home or prefer. The sauce comes together easily and quickly, and it’s a great, all purpose base for “creamy” results in dairy-free cooking.

For the topping, I pulse almonds, cheesy-flavored nutritional yeast, salt, garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil in the food processor. The result is a salty, cheesy, and crunchy crust for the dish.

I’d take this topping over breadcrumbs any day; I’d probably make the whole dish as an excuse to scrape the topping off when no one’s looking and eat it with a spoon. The best part is that you can substitute it easily in most recipes that call for breadcrumbs for a gluten-free alternative.

Extra flavor, and friendliness toward your vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free diners: win, win.  

Vegan and Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Gratin

Serves 6

For the gratin:

2 1/2 pounds cubed butternut squash
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons brown rice flour (alternately, you can use 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder or cornstarch)
Black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

For the topping:

1/2 cup almonds
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons olive oil

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

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Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.


Dei L. October 31, 2015
Looks fantastic

Kristin October 31, 2015
For us, I think this dish would be just as tasty without the nutritional yeast. We don't eat cheese so we don't "miss" the flavor of cheese. However, if you were going to make it for people who do eat cheese, they might miss that flavor and it might be a good idea to include the nutritional yeast.
Kathryn A. October 30, 2015
Please be aware that some people have a bad reaction to nutritional yeast - similar to MSG.
Sue H. November 21, 2015
Thanks - while I really enjoy the nutritional yeast, it make me sick. So, I really appreciate the alternatives to it's use in recipes.
Bella B. October 29, 2015
This dish looks so yummy and healthy!

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