Friday, January 8, 2010

Gratin of Baked Winter Vegetables

It all started because as I am trying to work on this blog and grow it, I have been reading a lot of food-related blogs looking for new ideas... One of the blogs I read, What's for Lunch Honey, has beautiful pictures and recipes. Her author, Meeta also organizes monthly mingles that are hosted by different blog-hosts each month. This month mingle, hosted by Sudeshna from Cook like a Bong, was about "Winter Vegetables and Fruits" . I thought that I could try to participate as long as I would stay focused on the purpose of my blog: healthy and easy cooking for the entire family. This mingle was a good way to try to do something different, yet easy and healthy, from what I have been cooking lately. I was therefore not going to make some ultra-fancy dishes with ingredients only a hyper-specialized supermarket would carry... Instead, I just decided to make an adapted version of a very traditional French dish that was perfect for the freezing temperatures outside: a Gratin Dauphinois (baked potatoes). It's a totally adapted version because real Gratin Dauphinois only calls for potatoes and no cheese.
But, I figured, I could get inspired  by the way the vegetables are cooked (in milk/cream) and to use Parmesan cheese to give it an appealing look and delicious crusty top that would make it more enticing to my children and husband (and maybe yours). At this stage, I was ready to add more cheese calories for additional Winter vegetables eaten....and it worked!

The French pun-lover in me would call it a Gratin de légumes d'Hiver (Hiver means Winter; d'hiver reads like divers, which means varied)....Because Winter being peak season for roots vegetables (which I love), I used turnips and rutabagas, in addition to sweet potatoes (for color) and regular potatoes (for the kin-relation with the Gratin Dauphinois). You could also use carrots, parsnips or even beets, hence the divers.
The key time-saver in this type of gratin is to pre-cook the vegetables in milk/cream on the stove. If you pre-cook them together, you would lose the color effect of the layers but for the sake of daily chores pleasure cooking, I'd go for that because it shortens the oven-baking time tremendously. Because I was trying to make it look nicer, I cooked it in the oven for 2 hours.
This dish was a really good and my children enjoyed it; I did help my younger one by pureeing (with a fork) his vegetables on his plate after he had taken a few bites...  That was also a time-and-energy saver! As for my husband, he ate it... and even packed the leftovers for lunch. And, just that, shows a lack-of-other-better-options despair one of these little signs I have come to take as compliment! Bon Appétit!

- 6 small potatoes
- 1 large turnip
- 1 large rutabaga
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Heavy Cream (about 1/4 cup or 65 ml)
- Whole or 2% Milk (about 2 cup or 500 ml)
- Grated Parmesan (about 2 cups)
- Salt and black pepper to taste

  • Peel and slice all the vegetables thinly; do not rinse the vegetables once sliced to keep their starch.
  • Take a baking dish and rub the garlic clove on all sides.
  • Combine milk, salt and black pepper
  • Preheat oven to 425F (220C)
  • In a sauce pan, put all the vegetables and cover them with the milk-salt mixture. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to avoid burning. The milk will slowly thickens thanks to the natural starch of the vegetables
  • Transfer half of the vegetables to the baking dish, keeping the milk. Cover with 1/2 of the heavy cream. 
  • Transfer the remaining vegetables and pour the cooking milk over.
  • Cover with the remaining cream and with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until you get a crispy cheese layer on top.
My Personal Comments:
  • Be aware that rutabagas require time to be fully cooked. You could pre-cook them separately a little bit longer to guarantee that they are fully cooked... or just skip them!
  • To thinly slice the vegetables you can use a food processor or a mandoline. I had my son help me so our slices were not evenly sliced.
  • You can cook the gratin ahead of time and re-heat it in the oven for 15-20 minutes before serving. It tastes really good the following day.
  • This is a nice side to a roast, even a dry meat because of the creamy/milky sauce of the vegetables.


  1. Vegetable gratin is sooo good. You can make great combinations of all kinds. It's just great.

  2. I love healthy and easy recipe. Your dish looks so yummy! This one is surely a keeper for me. ;)

  3. i made this myself the other day--or a variety at least. although i skipped the potatoes and added butternut squash instead.

  4. I really love the mission of your blog! I am a healthy food addict (although I do bake pretty frequently but I figure that one dessert a week won't kill me) and all of my dinners/lunches/breakfasts are chock full of fruits and veggies.

    This gratin looks fantastic! The best of hte winter veggie world.