This tasty springtime side will have you craving seconds
Spring is prime time for scallions. Fresh local ones are available in farmers’ markets. And you can grow them easily in a home garden.
So why not give them a starring role at the table? This creamy, cheesy Scallion Gratin makes a great side dish for poultry, meat, or seafood.
But it’s so good, you may be tempted to double or triple the recipe – and make a meal out of it.
Recipe: Scallion Gratin
Our recipe for Scallion Gratin is adapted from one we found in Jacques Pépin’s Table. Pépin has been writing cookbooks and appearing on TV for decades, so it’s easy to overlook him when thinking about contemporary food writers. But we think he may be the best cookbook author out there right now.
Prep time for this recipe is 5 to 10 minutes. Cooking time adds about 20 minutes. You can do all the prep work (and part of the cooking) ahead of time – see Notes.
This recipe yields 4 servings. It’s easy to cut in half or double (or triple). Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 4 bunches of scallions
- ~1 ounce fresh bread (about 1 slice)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (a half dozen grinds for us, or more to taste)
- 1 small garlic clove, thinly sliced or finely minced (optional, but tasty)
- ¾ cup cream (may reduce to ½ cup if you prefer a less creamy gratin)
- ~1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Prep the scallions: Remove about 2 inches from the dark green part of the scallions and pull off any discolored leaves. Remove the root ends. Wash the scallions thoroughly, shake them dry, then cut them into pieces of about 1 inch. (You may want to reserve some scallion rounds – chopped from the green part – for garnish.)
- Tear the bread into pieces, then place the pieces in a small food processor. Process until the bread is roughly crumbled. Set aside.
- Butter the interior surface of a small gratin dish. Set aside. Add the remaining butter (which will be about 1½ tablespoons) to a medium-sized frying pan. Place the pan over medium stovetop heat.
- When the butter is melted, add the scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the scallions are just tender (about 5 minutes). Then add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
- Add the cream and cook until the mixture has reduced a bit and thickened (3 to 5 minutes). Add half the cheese, then stir to combine. Scrape the contents of the frying pan into the prepared gratin dish. Smooth the scallion mixture with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula to even the surface.
- Sprinkle the bread crumbs and then the remaining cheese evenly over the surface of the gratin. Place the gratin pan in a hot oven and cook until the top browns and the gratin is bubbly (about 10 minutes). You may want to run the gratin under the broiler for a minute or two if the top isn’t as brown as you like.
- Serve and enjoy. We often garnish each dish with some chopped rounds from the green part of the scallions.
- Prefer to do most of the work for this dish ahead of time? Prepare it through Step 6, then let the dish cool. Cover it with shrink wrap and refrigerate. Then, when ready to serve, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and proceed with Step 7. You will probably need to increase the cooking time by 5 minutes or so to make sure the dish heats thoroughly.
- You can easily adjust the size of this recipe. Use about one bunch of scallions per serving, then adjust the other ingredients accordingly.
- When we make this dish, we layer the bread crumbs on first, then the cheese. Jacques Pépin mixes the two together before layering on. (He also adds the salt and pepper to the cheese.)
- Pépin cooks the scallions in water. He places them in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water, brings it to a boil, and covers. He cooks until most of the water is gone (about 5 minutes), then arranges the scallions in the gratin dish, pours in the cream (actually, he uses half-and-half), then layers on the cheese and bread crumb mixture. His version is a bit healthier, but we think ours is more luscious.
- BTW, you don’t have to use a gratin dish when you make this recipe (we actually used a small gratin dish that is often referred to as a “rarebit dish”). You could use ramekins or any other small baking dish instead.
- Scallions are essentially the same thing as green onions. The “green onions” sold in supermarkets often have larger bulbs than the pipsqueaks they market as “scallions.” But their flavor is identical. When we have a choice between larger onion bulbs and thinner, more elongated ones, we always choose the latter.
- Want a lighter dish? You can use a bit less cream than we call for. Or substitute half-and-half.
- Same with the cheese: You can use a bit less (or more!) if you prefer.
- You could add herbs to this dish – though we don’t think that improves the flavor significantly. If we were going that route, we would opt to use fresh thyme or tarragon.
- Scallion rounds make a nice garnish for this dish, as we noted. But chopped chives would be good too. Or chopped parsley.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using regular table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“This dish is a herald of spring!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Blooming good flavor.”
“Kiss my tulips!” I said. “This dish puts a spring in my step.”
“You were just waiting to spring that one on me, weren’t you?” said Mrs K R. “Couldn’t resist putting the petal to the metal.”
“I knew you’d appreciate my flowery puns,” I said. “Bud wait, there’s more! Would you like seconds on this?”
“Absolutely,” said Mrs K R. “After all, one swallow does not make a spring.”
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