Spiced Tomato Gratin Recipe

In a Indian spiced departure from a favorite Suzanne Goin recipe - this is a rustic, deeply flavorful summer gratin made with sliced tomatoes, potatoes, caramelized onions, curry powder, and a kick of red chile flakes.

Spiced Tomato Gratin

We have family visiting from out of town this week. Meaning, I've been a bit tied up, with not as much time to write. But, on the flip side, I have been cooking quite a bit. And in a change of routine, we've been eating dinners outside thanks to a new table purchase. I'm stubbornly determined to enjoy many al fresco meals sitting at it, even if it means wearing three layers of sweaters. So, for our first under-the-fog meal at our new table, I made this twist on a favorite Suzanne Goin Potato-Tomato Gratin recipe. It's a bit of a project, but worth it if you have the time and are in the mood for a slicey-dicey sort of afternoon in the kitchen.

Tomato Gratin Recipe

One of the things I like about Suzanne's gratin is the way she strikes bright, flavorful, deep and rustic notes in a preparation that isn't overly decadent. I'm not a fan of creamy starch-bomb gratins. And this is not that. Instead, you line a baking dish with layers of deeply caramelized onions, thinly sliced potatoes, ripe tomato slices, and slivered basil. The potatoes are tossed with a modest amount of cream which ends up percolating through the other ingredients while baking. On a whim, I decided to take a detour from the version in Sunday Suppers at Lucques which happens to be beautifully thyme-centric. Instead, I combined Indian curry spices with the onions, and introduced those flavors to the gratin.

Tomato Gratin Recipe

Either way, this is the sort of thing that is perfect just out of the oven. Or reheated the day after. Or the day after that. But be sure to read through the recipe entirely before committing to it - the prep takes some time, and it takes a good amount of time to bake.

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Spiced Tomato Gratin

I don't bother to peel the potatoes, but you can if you like. You're going to want to use a mandoline, if you have one, to slice the potatoes. If not, you can use a knife, it just takes a bit longer.

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (about 2 pounds / 32 oz / 910 g)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/4 pounds / 20 ounces / 570 g Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup / 120 ml heavy cream
2 pounds / 32 oz / 910 g ripe tomatoes
a small handful of basil leaves, slivered
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C with a rack in the top third.

Combine the spices in a small bowl and set aside.

You can get a jump start on the onions while you slice the potatoes and tomatoes. Heat half of the olive oil, 2 tablespoons, in your largest skillet or dutch oven over high heat. When hot, stir in the onions along with a few pinches of salt. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the onions soften up - 4-5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the butter. Stirring regularly, cook another 10 - 15 minutes at this temperature, or until the onions just begin to caramelize a bit. Dial the heat back a shade more, and cook until the onions are deeply golden, this might take another 20 minutes. A minute before the onions are finished cooking stir in the spice mixture. Remove the pan from heat and set aside the onions.

In the meantime, use a mandoline to slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Place in a medium bowl along with the cream, 1 teaspoon of salt, and bit of pepper. Toss well, and set aside.

Use a knife to cut the tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange across a large plate and sprinkle with another teaspoon of salt and some pepper.

Smear half the caramelized onions across the bottom of a 10x10 inch (or equivalent) gratin or baking dish. Take half of the potatoes and half of the tomatoes and arrange on top of the onion layer (see photo). Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of cream from the potatoes and a tablespoon of olive oil. Season the layer with a pinch of salt and half the basil.

Scatter the remaining onions across the potatoes and tomatoes already in the pan. Then arrange another layer of tomatoes and potatoes on top. This will be the top of your gratin, so do your best to make it look nice. Pour the remaining cream, from the potatoes, and last tablespoon of olive oil across the top. Season with another pinch of salt and the remaining basil. Gently press down on the vegetables so the cream comes up through the layers of vegetables evenly.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 2 hours, or until the potatoes are completely tender throughout. Increase the oven to 450F / 230C, carefully uncover the gratin, and cook another 30 minutes, or until the top takes on a nice golden color.

Serves 10 as a side.

Recipe inspired by the Tomato Potato Gratin in Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin, Knopf 2005.

Prep time: 30 minutes - Cook time: 180 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Wow that looks great, I have all the ingredients so I might cook it tonight.


Will try with sweet potatoes! and let you know.


It sounds really good. Maybe I'll try it replacing the tomatos with roasted red peppers. (I'm allergic to tomatos.)


I make something similar and eat it for days on end. Even for breakfast, it's great--I add a nice fresh sunnyside-up egg as a crown and I dive in!

tom @ tall clover farm

Looks fantastic! And really not too too time consuming...I am a little surprised about the length of cooking though. I'll still try it!


I wonder if this would be good with Coconut Milk instead of the cream! Anyone? HS: Totally agree.


Mmmm...I love creamy cheesey gratins, but my husband doesn't. This is a great compromise - but not on flavour.

Sally from My Custard Pie

Can this be assembled the night before and then baked? Thanks. HS: I haven't tried it with this specific recipe. I suspect it would. If you try it, could you report back to us?


I didn't see the previous post till after but I'm with you a creamy goat cheese would be really good. I had a recipe for pasta that used the pasta water to warm and soften the Chevre and it is brilliant and so easy.

Dana Sanchez

I want to see the new table! ;-) HS: I keep meaning to take a nice shot of it. Soon!

Lia Huber

Delicious, Heidi...Can't wait to use up all my 'Jersey tomatoes in this fabulous dish....

The Healthy Apple

This looks so awesome! Do you think it would be okay w/o cream since it's such a small amount? I know there's really no substitute for cream in most recipes, but any suggestions? HS: Hi Kerri, Give coconut milk a try.


This looks really yummy...What are your thoughts about a bit lighter what would be really satisfing with out the heavy cream Thanks so much for the great joy you take in your food adventures. Sincerely Dana.

Dana Sanchez

Heidi this looks fabulous. I love it. Do you think there is a way to also get a creamy texture without the heavy cream? Would a creamy goat cheese or ricotta work? Noelle HS: Hi Noelle, I think coconut milk would work beautifully in this recipe in place of the heavy cream. Or, if you have your heart set on goat cheese, I might thin it out quite a lot with milk, and go from there. Might be interesting.

Noelle @ GreenLemonade

My tomatoes just found their calling.

Heather @ Whisk Flip Stir

I've been drooling over all sorts of summer gratin recipes, and I think this is the one I want to try. Can you recommend a good brand of curry powder? HS: Hi Marne, I typically either blend my own from whole spices, or use this Juliet Mae curry powder. I also love the mustard-y Cool Vindaloo blend, but not for this recipe.


I'm a big fan of eating outside. Food just tastes better. I look forward to trying this recipe.


I love a gratin that is a departure from it's heavier cohorts! Great post!


Looks really, really delicious.... I love all things with tomatoes... would never have thought of adding that combo of spices.... this is tagged for me to try later in the month when my tomatoes are taking over my garden! Thanks for a great recipe.

Tracy Wood

That looks beautiful. I can't wait for our tomatoes to come in to try this. I might re-route it back to the original thyme-centric theme though.


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