When you think of continental and vegetarian, the first dish that comes to my mind is an au gratin, be it potato, cauliflower or a mixed vegetable. A bake is one way to get the family eat vegetables, furthermore, it is a one dish meal. An au gratin is a sought after dish all over the world and this French dish is made by taking together vegetables, mixing it with cheesy white sauce, sprinkling some cheese and breadcrumbs on top and baking it till you get a nice, crisp brown top. Along with some hot garlic bread this baked dish is a sure winner and with just one mouthful you’re on top of the world! Wow ! In one mouthful it’s the melted cheese, the mixed vegetables, the favoured white sauce -all blending together that hits you. It’s classic!
We are hard core non- vegetarians, coming from Gods own country – where from the traditional breakfast right up to dinner it’s either fish or meat or both served in so many different ways it just boggles you. Not that we, who stay outside Kerala follow these age old customs and traditions but it’s in our blood, just cannot help it.
At home here in chennai, we love our vegetarian bakes but it has to be spot on in flavour and taste to earn some brownie points from my kids – this is one bake which gets over in a jiffy -somehow all the ingredients – the vegetables, the flavoured milk, the cheese, the crispy top – not to forget the garlic bread -come together and sing in one voice.
Here’s one recipe you’ll make again and again-
- Boiled vegetables -2 cups ( carrot, cauliflower and broccoli, peas, corn )
- Flour-3 tbsp
- Milk -3 cups
- Cloves- 2-3
- Garam masala- 1tsp
- Mustard powder -1 tsp
- Oregano – a big pinch
- Parmesan cheese -1 cup ( grated)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Breadcrumbs -1/2 a cup
- Cut carrot into cubes and cauliflower and broccoli into medium sized flowerets.
- Bring a large pan of water to boil to which a pinch of salt and sugar has been added, first add the carrot cubes, then fresh peas, cauliflower flowerets, broccoli and last the corn. Once the vegetables are cooked drain in a large colander and pour cold water through the vegetables . Keep aside .
- Bring the milk to boil in a saucepan to which bayleaves, cloves and peppercorns have been added. Let it boil for a couple of minutes. Strain and keep aside.
- Heat butter, and on a low flame add flour, with the help of a whisk continue stirring till there are no lumps.
- Add milk a little at a time and keep stirring with a whisk till a smooth sauce is formed.
- Add salt, pepper, Garam masala, mustard powder and oregano. Test for seasoning.
- Fold in the cheese keeping aside a tablespoon.
- To the white sauce mix in the boiled vegetables.
- Into an ovenproof dish, spread the vegetable – sauce mixture evenly.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese (1 tbsp) and breadcrumbs and bake in a preheated oven(180 deg.c) for 25-30 minutes.
- Serve hot with garlic bread.
- You can substitute the vegetables stated above with Mushroom, potato cubes, baby corn.
- A handful of cooked pasta too can be added.
- Capsicum too can be added but no prior cooking is required.
- To make this bake more healthy, you could add the flour to the cold milk ( without lumps) and bring to a boil till a smooth sauce is obtained.
- This bake serves 4-6.
“The secret ingredient is one heaped teaspoon of love.”
Till my next post,