Sunday, November 14, 2010

Roasted Root Vegetable Gratin

This is another dish that came up in my search for new Thanksgiving sides.  I think this one fits quite nicely into what I consider traditional New England Fall cooking, with a tiny bit of a modern twist (I doubt my mother or grandmother ever got their hands on a wedge of aged Asiago).  This recipe is pure comfort, a little sweet from the carmelization of the vegetables, a little salty, a little creamy with a slight sharpness from the Asiago... just perfect.

I will admit that this was my first experience with parsnips.  I'm not really sure why I'd never had them before, both of my parents claim to have liked them, and they were certainly a readily available local ingredient in New England.  My best guess would be that I have to blame my younger brother for never having tried them before.... as a child he absolutely refused to eat any vegetable unless it was orange or yellow, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, and corn were about the only veggies he would eat without an hour's worth of dinner table drama.  I remember him dropping green vegetables under the table for the dog, and then trying to reason with my parents that if the dog wouldn't eat it there must be something wrong with it.  Amazingly, he'll eat almost anything now. 

Ok, back to the point... if you're a fan of root veggies, this is a MUST try, and it will definitely be on my Thanksgiving day menu :)

1  small butternut squash (about 2-1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2  medium parsnips (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
1  large sweet red pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch strips
1  medium red onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges
2  tablespoons olive oil
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp onion salt
1/4  teaspoon black pepper
1  tube(18 ounces) heat-and-serve polenta
1/4  cup half-and-half
1/2  cup shredded Asiago cheese
8  sprigs fresh thyme
1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. Toss squash, parsnips, red pepper and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place vegetables in a large roasting pan and roast at 375°F for 45 minutes, stirring twice.
3. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Slice polenta into 12 slices, each about 1/2-inch thick. Fit slices into the bottom of the baking dish.
4. Spoon vegetables over polenta slices. Drizzle with half-and-half and sprinkle with cheese. Scatter thyme over top.
5. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Allow to cool slightly before serving

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