This Healthy Butternut Squash Recipe Is Totally French…and Works in Your Instant Pot

Photo: Ann Mah

instantly french
Photo: St. Martin's Griffin

The French are known for their love of leisurely dinners, good wine, and complex, rich cuisine. But, apparently, they're also just as obsessed with Instant Pots as we are here in the States. Quelle surprise!

After spending time in France, food and travel writer Ann Mah (author of Mastering the Art of French Eating) realized that electric pressure cookers were the secret weapon for many a French home cook—and now she wants to teach Americans how to use it the way they do across the pond.

Her new cookbook, Instantly French: Classic French Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker, features more than 70 mouthwatering recipes you can make with an Instant Pot or other kind of electric pressure cooker. But one in particular really stood out from the crowd: squash gratin.

"In the winter months, Paris markets display enormous pumpkins that could double as Cinderella's carriage, sold by the slice, as thick or thin as you desire," Mah writes in the book. "Petite pumpkins are called potimarron, because their flavor is reminiscent of chestnuts, while butternut squash is known as le butternut." (Okay, that one's a cognate, but when said with a French accent, it definitely sounds fancier.)

For this recipe—made with whipped egg whites and a dusting of grated goat cheese—any type will do. "You can use any kind of hard winter squash: pumpkin, butternut, or acorn," Mah tells me. "They can take a long time to cook on the stove or in the oven, but the electric pressure cooker softens them much more speedily."

The end result will look like you slaved over it all day.

Scroll down for the recipe, straight from Mah's new book, Instantly French!

Squash gratin

2 pounds (1 kg) winter squash, such as pumpkin, butternut squash, or kabocha squash
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for the pan
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup milk
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg (optional)
2 Tbsp orange zest (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated comté or gruyère cheese, or 1 Tbsp
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1. Slice the squash into one-inch-thick rings or wedges and seed them, if necessary.

2. Place the steaming rack in the pressure cooker and add one cup water. Arrange the squash on top. Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes.

3. While the squash is cooking, generously butter a shallow six-cup baking dish and sprinkle it with the bread crumbs.

4. When the squash has finished cooking, manually release the steam. Transfer the squash to a plate to cool slightly.

5. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

6. When the squash is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scrape the flesh from the tough skin; discard the skin. Transfer the flesh to a blender or food processor and puree. (Alternatively, put the squash flesh in a large bowl and puree it with an immersion blender.) Transfer the squash to a large bowl. Add the melted butter, milk, two eggs, the salt, nutmeg (if using), orange zest (if using), and pepper to taste. Separate the remaining two eggs, adding the yolks to the squash mixture, and place the whites in a separate large bowl. Combine the egg yolks with the squash mixture.

7. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat with a whisk or handheld mixer until they hold stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the squash mixture, leaving some streaks of white.

8. Gently pour the squash mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top or dot the surface with butter. Bake until the top is golden and the center appears set, 45 to 50 minutes.

From Instantly French! Classic French Recipes For Your Electric Pressure Cooker. Copyright © 2018 by Ann Mah, and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Press.

Speaking of squash, here's the deal on if the skin is safe to eat. And here's the verdict on if eating like a French person all the time is actually healthy.

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