Myriad options exist to prepare this conventional side dish into a main Meatless Monday meal (wow, that’s a lot of m’s!). And the Mmm’s will continue once you taste it because you can hardly go wrong with potatoes and leeks. Paired with a healthy green salad, even the cream-based cheesy version is an excellent dinner choice that makes the most of your efforts to curb our country’s dependence on the meat industry. And with these gorgeous purple potatoes, you also get to expand your culinary horizons. You can find them at Whole Foods, or another gourmet food market. We procured ours from the Lancaster Family Farm CSA in Harlem.
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- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 large leeks, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 tsp. salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 6-8 purple potatoes, skinned and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1/2 cup gruyere, grated
- 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
Note: As usual, I’d suggest about a half hour for setting up mise en place ahead of time. It really does ease the issue of transitional stress at important cook points in the recipe. Not that this is one of the more challenging dishes, but a gratin involves enough cutting and grating that organization will make a huge difference.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat (use a pan that has a cover), add leeks, coak them with the melted butter, then cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Stir to protect from burning.
- Add salt, pepper, cream, thyme, and nutmeg and cook until thick – for another 10 minutes or so. Lower heat if necessary. Remove from heat and cool.
- In a covered casserole or scallop dish, coat with a thin layer of butter. Layer potatoes, then leek/cream mix, then cheeses (mixed together). There should be enough for three layers. Cover and cook for 45 minutes. Remove lid and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for about 20 minutes before serving. Garnish with a colorful scallion or parsley.