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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Yum. But thanks for the warning on prep time. Now if only I could figure out how to effectively use my mandoline...

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

This looks good, though I'd like to try it with the original "thyme-centric" herbs/spices - I'll have to look for the book somewhere. For those of you who don't like creamy gratins, search for Heidi's Summer Squash Gratin on here. It's potatoes and zucchini... brown butter bread crumbs... gruyere... oregano pesto... amazing. Not sure how it got left out of "related posts" so just wanted to make sure it gets the love it deserves!!


I would definitely do this gratin! Your food looks rustic and perfectly concocted aside from being picturesque all the time :)

The Artist Chef (Joanie)

WOW! Looks amazing!! Thank you for the wonderful pics and recipe. Bridget


Mmmmm this looks SO good. I love cherry tomatoes and this is a perfect way to incorporate them into a hearty dish.


So I was super excited to try this dish - but when I went to get the Potatos - there were none - only some yams ... so I did a quick sub and it turned out great ... less baking time ... so all in all ... great meal!


Looks lovely. I am definitely a fan of the creamy cheesiness, but that is to highlight the dairy. This is perfect for summer, highlighting the veggie and keeping a hot meal from thudding too hard in the tummy. Thank you!

Amanda at Enchanted Fig

I don't like to peel my potatoes too. Gorgeous dish..


It's winter here in Australia, too, so no fresh local tomatoes! But the prospect of having the oven on for 2 1/2 hours sounds great - that would warm up the house! I may try this anyway, with whatever tomatoes I can find.


Heidi, this looks just divine - and a wonderful change from the ordinary heavy, fatty potato gratin!


Mmmmm this to me yells comfort food all the way! ... ohh so yummy

Chocolate Freckles

I haven't eaten a potato gratin since I left home.... over 22 years ago! And while I did love my mama's one I can never bring myself to make one myself as they are always too rich and overloaded with fat! This one, however looks amazing and right up my alley!!!! Will have to try once it's summer in NZ. Thanks Heidi


This looks really good, all the flavors I love. Can't wait to give it a try :)

Janae Monir

I had all the ingredients straight from the yard. As a novice gardener, I plugged in Yukon Golds, assorted tomatoes and basil varieties last April. With an additional cutting of some fresh oregano and parsley, I substituted for the cumin and curry and called it one hundred percent - from backyard to table - inspired by you. Coincidentally, I posted a recipe with similar ingredients last week... www.mscookstable.com

Roben Mounger

Ohhhh!!!! I am putting this on my to make list for after my husband leaves on tour. It will give me something to look forward to!

Katrina (gluten free gidget)

I am going to get off my duff right now and make this for an early dinner. This is a great version of a tian I make (too) frequently! Thanks!


I don't have a lot of time for cooking during the week, plus it's hot here. Do you think this would work in a crock pot on low? It looks great!


nothing says "summer in San Francisco" like wearing 3 sweaters and eating Gratin ;)

Hadley Fierlinger

I am pea green with envy at the idea of needing a sweater, much less three, to sit outside. Currently it's in the high 90's and that's in the shade. Welcome to Florida in August. It's even too hot to grill. To cut down on heating up the house, I've become quite adept at cooking outside with a temperature controlled electric skillet. Do you think this gratin will work in a skillet? It looks too good to pass up. PS Another vote for a picture of the table, please!


This looks lovely Heidi, We do not have fresh veggies yet!! But when we do, I will have to give this a go. I can tell we will like it. I do something similar with chunks of ham (leftover) and grated sharp cheese layered in. It is wonderful. Can't wait to have a real tomato!!!!


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