When you say gratin, most people think of the classic French dish made with sliced potatoes and cream that is delicious, yet oh so rich. But that’s only the beginning. A gratin is any dish sprinkled with breadcrumbs and cheese if you like, and browned in the oven. It’s a technique that works wonderfully with many different vegetables. A gratin is the perfect, warming side dish (or vegetarian main course) for fall.
Potatoes, broccoli, fennel, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, turnips, leeks, celery root, onions, tomatoes, butternut squash, and spinach, are all delicious in a gratin. Basically, any vegetable that is tasty baked is a candidate. Nuts, cheese, herbs, garlic, and cream are the ingredients to play with to take your gratin to new heights.
Making a gratin couldn’t be easier. All you do is layer your vegetables of choice, top with breadcrumbs, butter and cheese (if you are using) and bake. Use a shallow dish. In the traditional version, the vegetables cook in a seasoned cream mixture. For a lighter alternative, blanch the vegetables in boiling salted water first and skip the cream sauce.