Cheshire and root vegetable gratin

    2 hours

    This country-style gratin tops nutty-flavoured root vegetables with a crisp mixture of wholemeal bread cubes and Cheshire cheese. It makes a really satisfying main dish on a chilly day. Serve in the baking dish, straight from the oven, with a leafy green vegetable or mixed salad alongside.

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    Serves: 4 

    • 200 g (7 oz) carrots, thinly sliced
    • 250 g (8½ oz) parsnips, thinly sliced
    • 300 g (10½ oz) celeriac, thinly sliced
    • 400 g (14 oz) potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 3 tbsp chopped fresh chives
    • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • 200 ml (7 fl oz) semi-skimmed milk
    • 75 g (2½ oz) fromage frais
    • 4 tbsp soured cream
    • 2 thick slices wholemeal bread, about 85 g (3 oz) in total
    • 15 g (½ oz) butter, melted
    • 100 g (3½ oz) Cheshire cheese, finely grated
    • salt and pepper

    Prep:45min  ›  Cook:1hr15min  ›  Ready in:2hr 

    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4). Layer the carrot, parsnip, celeriac and potato slices in a large, shallow ovenproof dish, sprinkling the chives, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste between the layers.
    2. In a mixing bowl, lightly whisk together the milk, fromage frais and soured cream, then pour evenly over the vegetables. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1–1¼ hours or until the vegetables are tender.
    3. Cut the bread into 5 mm ( 1/4 in) dice and toss with the melted butter and grated cheese to mix evenly. Spoon the mixture in an even layer over the vegetables. Return to the oven, without the foil covering, and bake for a further 15–20 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden. Serve hot.

    Some more ideas

    For a slightly stronger onion flavour, replace the chives with a bunch of spring onions, chopped, or 1 thinly sliced leek. * Other British cheeses can be used in place of Cheshire, such as Wensleydale or Lancashire. Or use Emmenthal cheese. * To make a Cheddar and sweet potato gratin, peel and thinly slice 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) sweet potatoes and layer in a large, shallow ovenproof dish with 200 g (7 oz) thinly sliced celery and 1 thinly sliced onion, sprinkling the layers with 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, 1 tsp caraway seeds, and salt and pepper to taste. Instead of soured cream, whisk 4 tbsp single cream with the fromage frais and milk. For the topping, mix 85 g (3 oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs with 15 g (½ oz) melted butter and 100 g (3½ oz) grated Cheddar cheese.

    Plus points

    Cheshire cheese is believed to be one of the oldest of all English cheeses. It is available white or orangey-red (coloured with a vegetable dye). Nutritionally there is no difference between the 2 varieties. * Root vegetables are inexpensive and a good source of carbohydrate and fibre. * Carrots are an important source of beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A.

    Each serving provides

    A * B1, B6, C, folate, calcium, potassium, zinc * B2, B12, E, niacin, copper, iron, selenium

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