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White winter vegetable gratin

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My vegetable ennui of a few weeks ago has not lifted entirely, but one Greens' recipe that succeeded in stirring my fancy was their 'White Winter Vegetables Baked in Cream.' Soup has been the way I've solved the question of the many unfamiliar vegetables that crop up in the cold months, but this dish suggested itself as a more sophisticated vehicle for fennel, leeks and potatoes. I replaced the celery root with parsley root and added shallots as well; as the authors say, the recipe lends itself to variation.

The soothing activity of preparing the vegetables took about half an hour at a leisurely pace, and we are looking forward to the leftovers we've packed to take to work, nicely macerated now in the thyme-fragrant cream.

White winter vegetable gratin

  • 3 leeks
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 3 parsley roots (approximately 8.5 oz), peeled
  • 6 new potatoes, peeled
  • 5 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • Leaves of 8 branches of thyme or 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 C cream
  • 5 T butter
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (I used a day-old baguette torn roughly)

Thinly chop the white parts of the leeks, putting aside the greens for stock. Core the fennel bulb if needed and cut into thin slices. Thinly slice the parsley roots and potatoes too. Butter a gratin dish and rub it with the garlic clove.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Put down half the vegetables, sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme, then top with the rest of the vegetables. Pour over the cream and dot the surface with two tablespoons of butter. Cover loosely with a piece of aluminum foil, then bake for 30 minutes. While the vegetables are baking, melt 3 T butter and toss with the bread crumbs. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and top with bread crumbs, then bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Serve with bread to mop up the sauce and some lemony greens for contrast.

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