Recipe 4: 100 Healthy Recipes Challenge
Fresh blanched Vegetables baked in a thick creamy sauce with a crust of cheese and homemade breadcrumbs seasoned with oregano, basil and thyme. Perfect for dinner on this rainy Bangalore evening! I first came across this dish many (long) years ago when I had lunch with a friend who attended a course in baking. Not having much exposure to a non dhal- roti or rasam – sambar meal, I was bowled over by this tasty dish, bubbling with cheese and fragrant with herbs. Now this is a staple at my home, and is so easy to put together.
Wikipedia says “Gratin (French pronunciation: [ɡʁatɛ̃]) is a widespread culinary technique in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter. Gratin originated in French cuisine and is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked or cooked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust on top and is traditionally served in its baking dish.” So now you know!
Chose colourful seasonal vegetables, which do not have a high water content. So no zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes and the like. I have taken firm bell peppers, fresh cauliflower, beans, broccoli, green peas, carrots and potato. The pineapple is optional, but does give a interesting flavour to the gratin.
The crust is made with a thick coating of homemade breadcrumbs, and the cheese sprinkled on top, to give a thick crust with lesser cheese than if the breadcrumbs were not used.
For blanching the vegetables, I used my new steamer cum pasta cooker that my daughters had gifted me recently. Very convenient as there is a small compartment in which I can place the vegetables so that they hang in the boiling water, and can be easily lifted out and drained.
I added just a little seasoning to the breadcrumbs. Ah! That aroma of nutmeg and basil and oregano and cheese!