Root Vegetable Gratin

Root Vegetable Gratin

The Turkey-day countdown has begun. Cooks and hosts across town are spending any available down time studying recipes, making lists and mapping a Thanksgiving defense strategy. I, personally, begin with a spread sheet, prioritizing side dishes that may be made in advance – my primary tactic to minimize kitchen chaos.

Granted, the main dish – the turkey – provides the drama. Its aroma and sheer largess are what elicit the oohs and ahs as it’s carved at the table. But its the side dishes that prickle my family’s palates.

This Root Vegetable Gratin is an example of a perfect make-ahead side dish; I serve it every year. The dish can be made up to 24 hours in advance (omitting the topping), then wrapped and refrigerated. Thirty minutes prior to serving (as your turkey is resting), top it with the panko-cheese mixture and pop it into the oven.

I cut hard root veggies in half before slicing for safety and ease.

Root vegetables are the underground edibles of the vegetable world; a sub-culture of subterranean beauty with earthy flavor, price tags and health properties that are easy to digest. This accommodating recipe, which utilizes the season’s bounty, may also be lightened up, if desired. Substitute olive oil for the butter and milk for the half-and-half or cream.

It’s a dish for hosts who insist upon tackling the whole feast, yet don’t want to be hovering over a sauté pan at the last minute. It’s also a gem of a recipe for the guest who promised to bring a dish to pass. (Just make sure to coordinate oven time with the hostess; oven space is valuable square footage on Thanksgiving.)

Recipe: Root Vegetable Gratin

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and well washed*
  • 6 large carrots (about 1 pound), peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds*
  • 2 parsnips (about 1/2 pound), peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices*
  • 2 turnips (about 1/2 pound), peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds*
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dry)
  • 1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Asiago cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚.
  2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan. Sauté leeks with a pinch of kosher salt for 5 minutes. Add carrots, parsnips, turnips and thyme and sauté for 10 additional minutes. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Transfer vegetables to a well-oiled ovenproof casserole or gratin dish. Pour half-and-half or cream over top and top with asiago. Cover with oiled foil** and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 30 minutes or until golden brown.

*Onions, garlic, rutebegas and sweet potatoes are other root vegetables that are delicious additions or substitutions for any of the ingredients used in this recipe. **The foil will stick to the cheese if it is not lightly oiled.

Active Time: 25 minutes

Bake Time: Approximately 45 minutes

Number of servings (yield): Approximately 6 servings

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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