Clean Eating Potato, Celery Root & Pear Gratin

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Mamas, are you ready to step up your veggie game?

It happens to the best of us: We fall into the habit of always cooking the same handful of meals on rotation. And who can blame us – the old stand-bys in our kitchen repertoire are usually quick and easy and we know they will turn out OK at the end of a long day, right? The upside: No bad surprises and culinary mishaps. The downside: It’s oh so boring!

Come on, let’s say it together: It’s time to try something new!

Yes! Like this comforting dish the whole family will enjoy: Potato, Celery Root & Pear Gratin from the current issue of Clean Eating Magazine (recipe by Alison Kent, April 2015). Definitely a more interesting alternative to your baked potato or potatoes au gratin, it is great on its own as a nutritious weeknight meal or a fancy side dish for a weekend dinner party. And while it does take a while to bake in the oven, actually preparing this gratin takes no time at all. So, what are we waiting for?

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 12-oz BPA-free can evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 celery root (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 2 yellow-fleshed potatoes (about 1/2 lb each), peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 2 firm ripe pears (about 1/2 lb each), peeled, cored, and sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Mist an 8 x 10-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium saucepan on medium, heat oil; add leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in milk, thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil (still on medium). Remove from heat.
  3. Reserving most of the milk mixture, line the base of the dish with the leeks using a slotted spoon. Arrange alternating slices of celery root, potatoes, and pears, starting with the edges of the dish and then filling the center with slices to fit.
  4. Pour the milk mixture evenly over the top. Loosely cover with foil and bake for one hour. Remove cover, sprinkle with cheese and continue baking until tender and golden brown (20-30 minutes more). Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Teachable Tips:

  1. Instead of cooking spray I drizzled regular olive oil on the bottom of the baking dish.
  2. I didn’t have a slanted spoon (of course not! By now you are probably asking yourself: “What is it that she actually DOES have in her kitchen?”) so I used a fine mesh colander to separate the leeks and milk mixture. Kein Problem!
  3. This is a perfect dish to prepare ahead of time. You can either fully bake it and then simply reheat or finish baking with the parmesan (I used a little more than 1/2 cup) 20-30 minutes before dinner time.
  4. Fun facts about celery root: It is high in essential minerals such as phosphorous, iron, copper and calcium. Also, its outside skin is pretty thick which my crappy potato peeler could not handle so I peeled it with a knife instead. Be careful not to cut yourself! Taste-wise, celery root adds a flavorful depth to the mild taste of the potatoes which works really well with the unexpected hint of sweetness from the baked pears.

Enjoy!

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