A GREAT WAY TO GET YOUR GREENS
It has been a long time hasn’t it? I began my masters and it has been a crazy ride. With a bit of a break now before the next semester I have been trying my hand at intermittent fasting. What that means is PREPARATION! I admit I fell off the wagon for a bit, grabbing what I could when I could but I have had to remind myself of the importance of spending a bit of time on the weekends to prepare some nice food for the week. This led me to make a delicious potato gratin. However, it wasn’t exactly low carb and I really wanted to find an alternate so I came up with this all vegetable version.
My veggies of choice for this were leeks, swiss chard, and fennel. I am sure if you wanted to experiment with others it would also work out. This is an easy, no-fuss recipe. The longest part was the baking and while it bakes you can sit down to a nice cup of tea if you want (or in my case get some reading done for my class).
I started off by slicing a large fennel bulb into slices of about 1 cm and I did the same for a large leek. Unfortunately, there is no place for the stalk or leaves but you can always through those int a large pot with other things and make a great vegetable broth. This got tossed together for one of the layers of my gratin. What is a gratin anyways you might ask? It is French of course and comes from a technique called au gratin which means browned because the top of the dish is usually a golden brown. Typically it is done in a more shallow dish but because I have some “fluffy” vegetables, I used a deeper dish with the understanding that the vegetables will wilt and the dish will not be as high.
The other vegetable I prepared was swiss chard. I love the dark red stems and sometimes I just sauté them and drizzle some thick balsamic over top. But I digress. After a quick wash and a course chop, the chard was also ready to go.
When you make a gratin, there is a beautiful layered effect that happens with the potatoes but because my vegetables don’t layer very well, I decided to just layer them anyways even though nobody would be able to see. Put half the leek/fennel layer in a lightly buttered dish. Make sure it is deep enough to hold everything. Next, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. I also included Italian dried herbs. Save the nutmeg for the end.
Continue with half of the swiss chard and season in the same manner. Next, place the remaining leek/fennel combo on top and season. Here is where I change things up a bit with one of my favourite cheeses, Gruyère. Grate about 3 oz and sprinkle half at this point before placing the final layer of chard. Once the layers have been assembled and seasoned, sprinkle the remaining cheese on the chard along with some ground nutmeg. This will complement the nuttiness of the cheese.
To create a bit of a sauce, add 1/4 C of cream. I love this cereal cream which is similar to half and half. I recently discovered that dairy higher in fat is lower in sugar and since I use a little each day, I have switched out my low fat milk for higher fat options to avoid the extra hidden sugars.
Finally, bake for 30 minutes at 350º. It will be crispy on top but the first half hour will allow the vegetables to shrink down. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. It is not the prettiest dish but it tastes yummy! I serve it with a large spoon to get all the deliciousness out.
Mixed Vegetable Gratin
1 large bunch swiss chard (chopped)
1 large leek (sliced)
1 large fennel bulb (sliced, stems and leaves discarded)
1 tsp unsalted butter
3 oz Gruyère cheese (grated)
1/2 cup cream
dried Italian herb mix
salt and pepper
1. Butter a large baking dish and set aside.
2. Combine leeks and fennel.
3. Place half of the mixture in the dish and season with salt, pepper and herbs.
4. Add half of the chard and season the same as in step 3.
5. Repeat step 3 with the remaining leek and fennel mixture.
6. Sprinkle half of the Gruyère onto the vegetables.
7. Add the remaining chard and season as in step 4.
8. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and some nutmeg to taste.
9. Bake for 30 minutes at 350º.
10. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
11. Let rest for about 10 minutes and serve
12. Manually release the remaining pressure.
Protein 11.5 g