Cabbage and Potato Gratin

This is simple comfort food and uses a lot of cabbage. Leftovers are delicious.  In this version I added a handful of small, tubetti pasta, which is totally optional.

 

 

You could add lots of chopped parsley or oregano or basil or chives to the dish as you’re assembling it, before baking. You could use other vegetables. I imagine diced winter squash instead of the potatoes would be fabulous and very pretty. Sausage, bacon or any kind of leftover meat would be good. You can vary the cheeses, omit entirely, and so on and so forth!

 

Serves 6

 

For Bechamel

 

4 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons flour

generous 2 cups of whole or 2% milk

Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper

Bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cloves

3/4 grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Emmentaler, . . .)

Fresh minced thyme, parsley, chives, etc. (optional)

 

Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan over med/low heat. When melted, whisk in flour. Continue cooking the roux for 2 -3 min, whisking frequently. Meanwhile heat milk until it’s scalding. Whisk hot milk into roux and add salt, black pepper, chili flakes (or omit if you’d like), add mustard and a bay leaf and a grating or two of nutmeg. Stir well and cook over med/low heat for about 10 minutes until thickened and bubbling. Add the cheese and fresh, chopped herbs, if, using.

 

For the Gratin

 

3-5 potatoes (depending on size) and cut into thumb-sized chunks

1/2 medium to large green cabbage (or a whole small one), cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

Handful or two of small pasta (optional)

Salt

Bread crumbs (optional)

1/2 cup grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Emmentaler, . . .) (optional)

 

Put potatoes in a large pot with lots of water and two teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil. If you are using some kind of pasta you’ll want to add it to the potatoes so they’re both done at the same time. The pasta can be quite al dente when you drain everything though since it will keep cooking in the oven. When the potatoes (and pasta, if using) are almost tender add the cabbage to the pot. Cover and cook for another few minutes until the cabbage is tender. Drain.

 

Spread the vegetables in a large baking dish. Pour the béchamel over the top and mix in a bit. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and optional cheese and bake at 400 until bubbly and crisp on top. Run under the broiler for a few minutes for more browning.

 

I Stared Down the Fridge and I Won!

I picked up this phrase from a dear friend and tonight was my night and I did win! I rarely write two blog posts in one week but this one couldn’t wait. And believe it or not, it all starts with Swiss Chard stems.  I have used a lot of chard lately, the leafy part that is, which meant I had collected a good pile of stems in the fridge. They keep well and I just kept adding to the bag. So tonight, in need of dinner, what did I find in the fridge? Chard stems (and not much else)! I usually either dice them and add them to soups or sauces but have also made a gratin in the past, so that’s what I set out to do. It really needed to serve as the main dish tonight so here’s how it turned into something blogworthy.

I roughly chopped half an onion and the chard stems and sautéed those in olive oil for a few minutes. Then I added 1/2 cup of water and covered the pan and braised them for about 10 minutes until the stems were tender.

Then I made a quick bechamel, but for the first time ever used half milk and half veggie bouillon (yes, I know you’re probably tired of hearing about the stuff but it is transformative). Then I remembered that I had a bag of leftover, sliced baguette in the freezer. So out came that and I nearly killed my food processor but I processed those into uneven, biggish, bread crumbs. Then I toasted those with just a little olive oil over high heat to thaw and crisp up just a bit.

Then I added about 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg to the bechamel and grated some sharp cheddar. Oh and I added the liquid left in the chard pan to the bechamel.

Then I put the chard stems in a casserole dish, covered them with bechamel, then bread crumbs, then cheese. In the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes until nice and bubbly, finish under the broiler and voila! Dinner! It was so much more than the sum of its parts. It was delicious–savory, creamy, crunchy, earthy! We did have an arugula salad (thanks Elizabeth – my super gardener friend/neighbor) too.

Oh and since I’m not writing the recipe out in a formal manner, the bechamel was made as follows: Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, add 4 tablespoons of flour, whisk and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of veggie  bouillon, first heated up together in a separate  saucepan or microwave. Whisk in the hot liquid and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 7-10 minutes. Add nutmeg.

Buon Appetito!