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Love Gratin

12 February

Love Gratin

What do you get when you take a group of gluten-free eaters, 3 vegetarians, 1 auto-immune protocol, a coconut intolerance, 2 dairy intolerances, 1 garlic allergy, a salicylate intolerance and 2 sugar addicts and mix them together for dinner?

 One Love Gratin for everyone to enjoy.

 When we all get together, we practice BYOP (Bring Your Own Protein), cook up a green vegetable, and sometimes try for a pseudo-main dish for all to share.  This one was a big hit– 6 quarts made enough for seconds and thirds, plus a little bit left over for lunch the next day.

A gratin is a casserole that is topped with a crust.  The crust is usually due to a top layer of breadcrumbs and cheese, and the gratin itself is usually resplendent in cheesey, creamy, dairy gooeyness.  You layer your ingredients in a dutch oven, pour a creamy broth over it, cover it, and let the oven do most of the work (uncovering it at the end to crisp up the crust).

Almost as good as the fact that this one was tolerable to most of our intolerances, is that this gratin can be prepped hours ahead of time, and popped in the oven an hour before dinner.   Also, the formula is simple so it’s easy to make substitutions based on what you have on hand, what is digestible to you, and what you like; just remember: thinly sliced veggies and 3 – 5 cups of tasty liquid so the vegetables get soft and the whole thing is bubbly.

Ours had root vegetables, celery, dried Chantrelle mushrooms, nutritional yeast, pecan milk, salt, olive oil, some few onions, and Ryanna’s Za’atar spice mix* in it.  And it happens to be absolutely delicious.

You can use any cooking fat you prefer (olive oil isn’t great at high temperatures, but it was the least offensive to all of our intolerances), and any milk you’d like.

We used homemade pecan milk because it’s extra thick and creamy and fatty, and, once the nuts are soaked, it’s not bothering our auto-immune eater’s belly.  With all of the root vegetables, the more fat you add, the better it’s likely to taste, so full-fat cow’s or goat’s milk would be delicious, as would some layers of goat cheese throughout.  Those of us who do eat dairy sprinkled cow’s feta over the portions on our plates, and it was lovely.

When avocado is hot it gets gooey and almost melts, so my theory is that chopped avocado sprinkled among the layers would also be a great way to get good fat and extra flavor into the dish.

Ok, enough theorizing!  Here’s the recipe to get your wheels turning and your mouth watering.  Just share the love and tell us below in the comments how you customize it!

*You don’t know Za’atar mix?  Well, it’s a mixture of dried thyme, sumac & toasted sesame seeds. It’s an obsession in our house lately.

Love Gratin 

(Substitutions accepted and encouraged)

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes, sliced into thin rounds

2 large Yukon gold potatoes, sliced into thin rounds

2 cups Jerusalem artichokes, sliced thinly

2 Beets, sliced thinly

¼ cup onion, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

¼ cup dried Chantrelle mushrooms + ½ cup hot water

4-5 cups pecan milk (or any milk you prefer)

4 tsp Za’atar spice mix, separated

4 Tb Nutritional yeast

Sea salt, to taste

Olive oil, to oil the pan and to sprinkle between layers

Directions

  1. Pour hot water over dried mushrooms, and let sit to reconstitute for 10-20 minutes.  Strain mushrooms and chop, reserving the soaking water.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375, and lightly oil a 6-quart Dutch oven.
  3. Make single layers of each of your root vegetables, sprinkling celery pieces, rehydrated mushroom pieces, onion, sea salt and olive oil between layers.  Save enough white potato rounds for the final, top layer (as they get nice and crispy under the broiler at the end), and sprinkle 1 tsp of Za’atar on the top as well (or just 1 tsp of sesame seeds, if you don’t have Za’atar).
  4. Add the reserved mushroom soaking water to the milk, and whisk in the remaing 3 tsp Za’atar spice mix and nutritional yeast.  Pour milk mixture over the layered vegetables slowly, until the milk covers at least half of the veggie layers (adding more liquid will make the finished casserole more soupy, so add as much as works for your taste and texture preferences).
  5. Cover and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender.  Then remove cover, and put casserole under the broiler for a few minutes, until the top layer gets nice and crusty.

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Liz Flint-Somerville, Nutritional Consultant

Liz was a partner in Grub for 3 amazing years and helped author many of our most beloved recipes and posts. She is now dedicating her time to caring for her family, writing poetry, and continuing to cook delicious Real Foods.

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