Layered Root Vegetable Gratin

I’ve said it before, it is so satisfying to gather up all of the contents of the fridge and put them together to come up with something new and delicious.  Last week, the cut celeriac, rutabaga, turnips, and butternut squash in my vegetable drawer were just begging to be sliced thin and layered into a savory dish with the cooked adzuki beans waiting above.  I know, chances are you don’t have those things in your fridge right now, but I liked this dish so much that I would actually go to the store to buy these ingredients.  They are not everyday ingredients for me either, by the way, though I am starting to really love celeriac.  Variety is the spice of life…and root veggie season is almost over.

You can use any root veggies or tubers you like (potatoes, sweet potatoes, any type of squash, daikon, burdock root, celeriac (aka celery root), rutabaga, turnips, etc); the key is to slice them pretty thin so they get nice and soft.  A mandolin would be perfect for this.  Unfortunately, I don’t have one, but, fortunately a good chef’s knife will also do the trick.

This recipe is based on what I had in my refrigerator last week.  In addition to different types of vegetables, you could use different beans as the filling, add cheese if you eat it, layer other vegetables in, use fresh or dried herbs and spices…be creative and have fun!

  • olive oil or ghee
  • 1 cup sliced onion, shallot, or leek
  • 1 large celeriac
  • 1 large rutabaga
  • 1 large turnip
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 3 cups cooked adzuki beans
  • 1 bunch collard greens, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or coconut milk, or a combo
  • 1 cup or so breadcrumbs, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat an 11×7 dish or some equivalent casserole dish (or dishes) with olive oil and set aside.  Heat a medium pan to medium heat, put in a little olive oil or ghee, and saute your onions, shallots or leeks until just browned, then set aside.  Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables and filling, keeping each component separate until you are ready to assemble the gratin.

The celeriac has a pretty thick and fibrous skin, so I peel that with a pairing knife, then slice it up, cutting it in half if necessary to make it more manageable.  I just wash and slice the rutabaga and turnips, discarding the stem ends.  For the squash, wash it, cut off either end, then slice it down the middle so you can remove the seeds and stringy pulp (you can soak the seeds in salt water, then drain, rinse and roast them later), then slice it up.

For the filling, mash the beans and, if they aren’t already seasoned, add a little salt, onion and garlic powder if you have it, and some broth or water to thin it.

To assemble the gratin, start with whichever vegetable is in the biggest pile.  Layer it to cover the bottom of the dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, spread a layer of beans over it, then the chopped greens and a layer of sauteed onion/shallot/garlic and do it all again, alternating the type of vegetable each time until they are gone.  The only rules are that you don’t want to end with greens, because they need to be between the other stuff to cook properly, and you should reserve a few onions/shallots/garlic for the top.  If you have extra root veggies, you can chop them up for soup, coat them in olive oil and roast them on their own, or make another gratin.  Pour the broth/coconut mixture (I recommend using both) over the whole thing, drizzle it with olive oil, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and put it in the oven to bake.  If you want, you can season some breadcrumbs with olive oil and salt, herbs, whatever, and create one more layer for the top.  Bake until you can easily insert a knife through all of the layers and the vegetables are very soft.  The top layer of vegetables or breadcrumbs will also be crisp and lightly browned.  This will probably take about 40 minutes, but watch it closely as there are a few variables that will affect how quickly it gets done (particularly the thickness of the root veggies).  Let it cool for a few minutes, then cut into squares and enjoy!

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