Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Leek and Zucchini Potato Gratin


I grew up eating potatoes au gratin and scalloped potatoes. Yum! Of course they were made from a box, in a microwave with dehydrated potato slices that would rival my dog's raw hide chew toys. Now, as an adult with my own kitchen, I'm not willing to go boxed so au gratin potatoes haven't made an appearance on my family's table.

Every so often though I have dreams of the cheesy potato goodness. A potato lover's mac 'n cheese, that processed cheese powder sauce both makes me nostalgic and gives me the shudders.

After making egg cups earlier this week I was left with some extra leek and zucchini filling. It was far too good to toss, so I decided it would pair nicely with the russet potatoes I had on hand. After scanning the fridge I realized I had cream and sharp cheddar cheese.

Could I go there? Would homemade gratin be nearly as good as the memories from my childhood?

Well, I was willing to give it a shot.


First start with some potatoes. I think this dish really needs a good mandolin slicer to achieve uniform and thin slices. I love how russets cook up, but I didn't want them to all fall apart so I added in some red potatoes. I know Yukon Golds would be ideal, but I was working with what was already in my kitchen.

I grabbed a baking dish, buttered the bottom and then began layering the luscious slices of potato. I overlapped them just a little, and tried to keep the dish nice and tight.

Leeks and Zucchini

Then I went a tiny bit crazy. Instead of just the usual potato, cream and cheese version, right in the middle I spread the remaining leek and zucchini filling I had sauteed for another recipe. The filling was already seasoned, but since potatoes really need salt, I also salted the layers as I built my dish up. A little cheese goes a long way, but don't forget to add it along the way. I ended up with 3 layers of cheese between the spud slices.

Then pour on the milk, or in my case a little cream. Yeah, you don't have to go that rich, but I had a bit to use up in my fridge. Just pour on to come up flush with the top layer of spuds. Then top with a bit more cheese and bake and bubble away.

The leeks and zucchini really add a nice dimension of flavor to this simple gratin. This was the perfect side to accompany a smoked chicken breast an a generous green salad. Don't expect this dish to last long. It is spoon-licking good!

Homemade Gratin

Leek and Zucchini Potato Gratin

You Will Need:

  • 2 medium russet potatoes, sliced
  • 2 medium red potatoes
  • 1 c. sauteed leek and zucchini
  • 1 c. sharp cheddar cheese
  • approx. 1 c. milk or cream
  • 2 Tbsp. butter + more to grease the dish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Grease a 9"x12" baking dish and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Saute sliced leeks and grated zucchini in olive oil till tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

With a mandolin, slice potatoes to 1/8". Pour a little cream in the bottom of your dish and begin going around the dish layering the slices. They should overlap slightly. After 2 layers of potato, salt and pepper and then top with 1/3 of the cheese. Then repeat.

On the second layer add the sauteed leek and zucchini topping. Finish with another 2 layers of potato and the remainder of the cheese. Then pour on about a cup of cream till it comes up to the bottom of the top layer of potatoes. Divide the butter to dot the top of the gratin.

Bake for about an hour, until the mixture is bubbly and the top cheese is golden brown.

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