Recipe: Winter Root Vegetable Gratin

Winter Root Vegetable Gratin
This picture is from our Thanksgiving meal last year and it’s been sitting on my hard drive all year waiting to be seasonally appropriate again. I brought a friend with me to our family Thanksgiving, which meant that she was responsible for contributing a side dish. But since I am a bossy friend who loves to cook, I made her buy the vegetables and then made it myself.

Last year I was OBSESSED with parsnips. I still am, they are woefully underrated, but last year I was putting them in every single dish. So when it came time to come up with a Thanksgiving side dish, I decided to go with my obsession and top it. I pulled out every underrated winter vegetable, threw them in a dish, poured cream and cheese over the top, and called it heaven.

This recipe, like most of mine, is really flexible. I just started chopping vegetables until I couldn’t fit any more in the dish, grated cheese between each layer and more on the top, and poured on as much cream as I could without it overflowing. So basically, what I’m telling you is that my measurements are guesses and you should embrace this recipe as the free form experiment it is.

Winter Root Vegetable Gratin

3 Parsnips, sliced
2 Rutabegas, sliced
3 Turnips, sliced
2 Leeks, white parts only sliced
1 pt heavy cream
1 can chicken broth
2 Cups gruyere cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Rub butter around the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish. With all the vegetables washed and sliced into rounds – a food processor makes short work of this – start layering them into the dish one vegetable at a time. Between each layer sprinkle salt and pepper, and some cheese. Save half the cheese for topping. Keep going until your dish is full, saving the leeks for the top layer. Pour in the cream and chicken broth. Cover the dish with tinfoil and bake at 350 for an hour or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the tinfoil, top with the remaining cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted and crispy.

This dish was my favorite kind of “make it up as you go and see what happens” kind of recipe, and was such a huge hit that my family is already double checking that it will be there again this year. One of these days I’ll learn to measure as I go.

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