To be fair, rutabagas are also nice in a stew, but a gratin is an irresistibly delicious way to enjoy a winter vegetable that you might otherwise not know what to do with. You will enjoy this equally with celeriac or turnips replacing the rutabaga. All of these under-appreciated root vegetables have their own unique flavor, which is highlighted perfectly in this simple dish.
This gratin is incredibly satisfying alongside any roasted meat or fish. Plus, we all need to brush up on our gratins for the holiday season.
Rutabaga and Cauliflower Gratin:
1 Tbsp. butter plus more for buttering the dish
1 large or 2 small leeks, white and light green parts only
1 large rutabaga (softball-sized) or the equivalent in smaller rutabagas
1 head cauliflower
1 C. heavy cream
1 C. chicken broth
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
4 oz. Parrano or Dutch Gouda cheese, grated
S & P
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the trimmed leeks lengthwise and wash under running water, pulling the layers apart to rinse away any dirt or sand. Then slice the leeks thinly into half-moon shapes.
Warm a large saute pan over medium heat and melt the butter. Saute the leeks for 10-12 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden brown. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.
Slice the rutabaga very thinly into 1/8” slices. You will need a mandoline or a sharp knife for this. If using a knife, halve the rutabaga first and place the cut side down to make it easier to slice without rolling around. Set the rutabaga slices aside.
To prepare the cauliflower, remove the leaves and trim any excess stem away. Place the cauliflower stem side down and slice it into approximately 1/4” slices. Many of the florets will just roll away, but as you get near the center, you will have several full slices of cauliflower that include both stem and florets. Try not to break these pieces apart.
Place the cream, broth and nutmeg over medium heat and warm until steaming. Season with salt and pepper
Grease an 8 or 9 inch square glass or ceramic baking dish. Start by placing a layer or rutabaga slices on the bottom, slightly overlapping. Next, add a layer of cauliflower slices (use the whole slices first), and sprinkle the vegetables with just a little salt. Spread about 1/4 of the leek mixture on top of the cauliflower. Continue to layer the rutabaga, cauliflower, and leeks for a total of 3 or 4 layers of each, or until the baking dish is just slightly overfull (the vegetables will cook down). For the final layer, use the small bits of cauliflower to fill in the gaps.
Pour over the hot cream and broth mixture and cover the dish tightly with foil.
Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes. or until the cream mixture bubbles vigorously and the rutabagas are fork tender.
Remove from the oven and carefully uncover. Top with the grated cheese and return to the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is beginning to brown. If necessary, place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to brown the cheese to your liking.
Cover loosely with foil and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.