Autumn Root Vegetable Gratin with Herbs and Cheese

October  3, 2014

In Cooking from Every Angle, we hear from our fearless leaders: Food52 co-founders Amanda & MerrillThis post is brought to you by our friends at Weight Watchers, who celebrate gathering together around the table to enjoy wholesome, beautiful food.

Today: Merrill shares a savory vegetable gratin that highlights her autumn market haul. 

Shop the Story

I don't know many people who would turn down a potato gratin, do you? What I love about this classic dish, other than its near universal appeal, is that it is deceptively simple to make relative to its beauty. Plus, you can probably make it with what you have in your fridge and pantry right now.

My go-to gratin is the one I learned in cooking school; it relies on garlic-infused milk instead of cream, and the potatoes are thinly sliced and added to the baking dish raw. (I find par-boiled gratins are often grainy and/or mushy, and you can't layer the potatoes into the dish in as pretty and precise a pattern if you've already cooked them.) Other than the garlic, all you add for flavor is salt, pepper, and some Gruyère cheese -- that's it. You bake the gratin in a hot oven until the potatoes are tender and the milk thickens into a sauce, and you've got a gorgeous, versatile side dish.

After having relied on my old standard for over 15 years (yikes!), I decided to shake things up a bit. With all the lovely roots and tubers appearing in the markets, why not apply the same technique to a mix of vegetables? And maybe I could even throw in some herbs and switch up the cheese while I was at it.

Having gotten my hands on a pretty little butternut squash and a pair of handsome parsnips at my local farmers market, I picked some rosemary and thyme from my window box. I also sliced up a potato to mellow the flavors of the other roots and grated a nub of Pecorino I found in my fridge for some extra bite.

Alternating evenly between the three vegetables for visual appeal, I layered them into the pan with the other ingredients, and into the oven it went. The resulting dish was savory, sweet and creamy with a subtle bite from the parnips. This gratin is more complex than the all-potato version, but not so assertive that it will distract from the main event. If you're looking to live close to the edge without going straight over it, this just might be your ticket.

Autumn Root Vegetable Gratin with Herbs and Cheese

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cloves garlic
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound butternut squash
3/4 pound white potatoes
1/2 pound parsnips
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup grated Gruyère
1 cup grated Pecorino

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom 

This post is brought to you by Weight Watchers. Need ideas for dinner tomorrow? They've got you covered. Show us what you're cooking with the hashtag #biteintolife.

Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jean Loney
    Jean Loney
  • Lisa Kalezic
    Lisa Kalezic
  • Loretta
  • Stuart
  • Donecia
I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


Jean L. October 7, 2015
Jean L. October 6, 2015
I would like to make this for our Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. Can any of it be made ahead and then cooked at the end?
glammie October 6, 2015
Yes, assemble without the liquid ahead of time - a day ahead. The potatoes tend to discolor a bit when sitting, so toss them in the smallest amt. of olive oil before adding them to the dish to stave off discoloration. Add the liquid just before baking.
Lisa K. October 5, 2015
Just curious how you can take 3 different shaped vegetables like these and have them to a consistent size for cooking? please advise because it sounds and looks so yummy - thanks, Lisa
glammie October 5, 2015
Just slice them all the same width .....
Loretta October 5, 2015
I cooked this last night and it was great - everyone loved it from the 13 month baby to his grandpa. I didn't find a turnip so used a lovely golden beet and it was yummy.
Stuart March 12, 2015
Delicious! Next time I'll add a bit more herbs, a pinch of dried mustard to the milk mix and I'll pour the milk on and then sprinkle the final covering of cheese so I get more yummy browned cheese.
Donecia October 8, 2014
This sounds AMAZING!! On the menu for this Sundays dinner!!!
Helen P. October 6, 2014
Just put in the ingredients into WW recipe builder and works out to roughly 8 pts baed on 6 servings.
Alexandra S. October 5, 2014
This looks so good, and I have everything on hand to make it. Would be so great for the holidays, too, Yum!
E B. October 5, 2014
Just bought a fresh head of celeraic - it would be great in this dish.
glammie October 4, 2014
That must cost a ton of WW points ....