If you have an organic vegetable or CSA box delivered weekly, you can be sure of eating in season foods. The only trouble around this time of year is that you sometimes end up with an awful lot of root vegetables. Nothing against root vegetables you understand, but it can be hard to think up new and different ways to serve them. Once you’ve exhausted mashing, roasting and making soup, it can get kind of tricky. Thankfully I don’t mind trying new things in the kitchen, and my family are very tolerant with my experiments.
My late Mom was famous for her Scalloped Potatoes, and it struck me one day that potatoes have a very similar texture to parsnips, turnips, swede and other root vegetables. I got to thinking about it, and after a couple of test runs, I came up with a recipe that we enjoy almost as much as Mom’s potatoes. It’s just as easy too, plus you can tailor it to your individual tastes and what you have on hand.
It’s hard to specify exact quantities as it does depend on the vegetables you use. Basically you want to layer your vegetables, so you can mix and match to suit you. I like to use a 13 x 9 x 3 inch pan for this recipe so that you can get some good layers of vegetables in the pan, and still have room for the milk. You can use any root vegetables you like, but I always like to include some potatoes. In the version in the photograph I used them along with kholrabi, turnip, leeks and parsnips. You can of course use onions instead of leeks. The whole idea of this recipe is to help you use what you already have on hand, not to specify a whole load of ingredients you have to go out and buy.
This recipe does take nearly two hours to cook, and there is a fair amount of peeling and chopping involved but it is worth it. I serve this either as a meal in itself with a salad or as a side dish. It’s gorgeous with vegetarian sausages. By the way, my scalloped vegetables might look a little well done in the picture above, but it’s those crunchy almost burned bits of the top that everyone fights for! Feel free to cook yours a little less if you prefer!
To serve 4 to 6 people you need about:
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 to 4 leeks, washed and sliced OR 1 large onion
2 to 3 parsnips, peeled and sliced in circles
1 turnip, peeled and sliced
1 kholrabi, peeled and sliced
3 generous tablespoons plain (all purpose) flour
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter, cut in chunks plus a bit to grease the pan
3 cups milk
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC or 180ºC for a fan oven). Grease a 13 x 9 x 3 inch oven safe casserole or pan (preferably one with a lid) lightly with butter.
Put a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of onions or leeks. Sprinkle with half the flour and some salt and pepper.
Add a layer of other vegetables, say some turnip and some kholrabi, followed by another layer of onions and the remaining flour. Place a layer of parsnips or other vegetable on top of that.
Finish with a layer of potatoes. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper and dot the butter over top.
Heat the milk in the microwave or on the stove top until it is just beginning to bubble around the edges, but not boil. Carefully pour over top of the vegetables in the casserole. Put the lid on the casserole or pan, or cover with a layer of aluminum foil.
Bake for an hour. Remove the casserole from the oven and take the lid off. Gently push the top layer of vegetables into the milk with the back of a fork. Return the casserole dish to the oven and bake for a further 30 to 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender when you put a fork in them, and the top is turning brown.