Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Vegetable Croustade au Gratin

I’m excited to bring you this recipe: It truly is outstanding ... the perfect dish to serve vegetable lovers and vegetarians over the holidays! With so many parties and get-togethers at this time of the year, this recipe marks a departure from the usual holiday fare. If your table is small but the crowd is large, it’s also an excellent way to present a variety of vegetables using only a single dish. The following video shows an enthusiastic crowd of vegetable lovers, chowing down:

Despite the name, this recipe is not really a “croustade” - a pastry or bread casing that holds a filling - but this simplified version is nonetheless excellent. My good friend Grace gave me this great recipe several years ago. 
Winter Vegetable Croustade au Gratin:
To Prepare the Vegetables:
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 c. your choice of winter vegetables such as carrots, turnips, celeriac (celery root), parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc., peeled and cut in ½-in. widths and 3-in. lengths
Handful of trimmed asparagus stalks, also cut in 3-in. lengths
1 tsp. fennel or caraway seeds (Do not omit!)
Salt and pepper, to taste 
Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stirring continuously, add and cook onion, garlic, vegetables and fennel or caraway seeds 3-to-5 min. (increase time in pot to 8-to-10 min. if making a larger quantity), until onions and garlic have softened.  Transfer to lightly greased oven-proof casserole and set aside.

To Prepare the Topping:
2 c. shredded aged cheddar
2 tbsp. melted butter or margarine
2 slices white or whole wheat bread, cubed
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Pepper, to taste

In a bowl, combine cheese, melted butter, breadcrumbs, and parsley.  Top vegetables with cheese mixture. Bake, uncovered,  15 minutes or until vegetables are tender and topping develops a crust. Do not over-bake or crust will burn. Serves 4-to-6. This recipe is easily doubled or quadrupled for a group. 

Chop vegetables to uniform size so they cook evenly

Combine with garlic and onion over medium heat

Transfer to oven-proof casserole

Combine topping ingredients, mixing well

Spread topping evenly over casserole

Bake, serve, and accept the deluge of compliments with modesty!

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