I made a root vegetable (carrot, turnip, and beet) gratin for Christmas dinner and it was a delicate, sweeter alternative to a more traditional potato version. Using only carrot boosts the sweet notes, and because they are sliced paper thin (assembling the gratin feels akin to making something with brilliant orange fish scales), you need only 20 minutes for tender crisp carrots. Cloaked in curried cream, with melted leek and garlic providing some structure, I will definitely be making this again. —gingerroot
- Serves 4-6 as a side
medium carrots (preferably organic), peeled
whole head garlic
large leek or 2 smaller leeks
fragrant curry powder
1 1/2 cups
cream or half-and-half
finely grated Emmentaler plus more if needed (can substitute another mild, nutty swiss cheese)
Freshly ground black pepper
- FOR THE MELTED LEEKS & GARLIC: Preheat oven to 375. Prep garlic and leek(s). For garlic, slice of about 1/2 inch from bottom of whole head. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil. For leek(s), thoroughly wash and trim end and green top, so only white and tender pale green part remain. Slice, drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil. Place your two packets on a baking sheet and roast until tender 45-50 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Combine melted leek slices and garlic popped out of papery skins in a small bowl. Add curry powder and mash to combine thoroughly, breaking up the roasted garlic cloves. Set aside, reserving about 1 Tablespoon of mixture in another bowl (I had about 1/3 cup of curried leek and garlic mixture). Turn your oven up to 400 degrees.
- Using a straight slicer (or mandoline if you have one) carefully slice carrot into paper thin rounds. You will have a heap of them.
- Assemble the gratin, by adding glug of olive oil to the bottom of a shallow round (10 inch) ceramic baking dish. Smear and spread about 1 teaspoon of curried leek and garlic mixture on the bottom of dish. Begin layering in the carrot rounds, you want them to slightly overlap. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cheese on top of the carrots. Repeat layers two more times, however before you end with your final cheese top, dot reserved tablespoon of curried leek and garlic on the surface. End with cheese, grating more if necessary to cover the gratin.
- Steam cream or half-and-half over low heat in a saucepan. Beat egg in a small bowl and temper by slowly adding 1/2 cup of warm cream, whisking to combine. Gradually whisk egg-cream mixture back into saucepan with remaining liquid. Add salt and freshly ground pepper, stirring to combine.
- Carefully ladle warmed cream-egg mixture over carrot mixture, gently pressing down edges of top layer. Liquid should come up about halfway in the dish. Cook for 20 minutes. If you want a golden brown top, turn up the oven to 450 for the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Allow gratin to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!