Confetti Gratin

I find it funny that a disproportionate number of my food posts are about gratins, which are really not a huge part of my daily cooking repertoire. Perhaps that’s why they get written up here — they seem somewhat novel to me. Or maybe I just think they’re pretty.

We had a bunch of root veggies from the CSA last week. More kohlrabi, buttery amazing potatoes, and, as is so frequently the way, radishes. I had planned to make a gratin with the kohlrabi and potatoes, the simple kind where you slice them up and pour cream over (well, half & half as my cream — the primary inspiration for this dish — had spoiled) and bake it, with some garlic and fresh herbs added for good measure. I sliced the kohlrabi and potatoes directly into my baking dish using my ceramic faux mandoline, and then I spied the radishes tucked away in the veggie drawer. We get radishes from our CSA. We get lots of radishes. I was still working on the previous week’s radishes when more arrived. Inspired partly by aesthetics and partly by the abundance of radishes, I decided to put them in the gratin, and look how pretty:

 

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The half and half was whizzed up in the blender with some fresh garlic and handfuls of various herbs and a bit of parmesan, and it was poured over my pretty root veggies and baked at around 450 for quite a while. Over an hour. Maybe an hour and a half.

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Note the little herb flecks in this ready-to-bake dish. We had received a few little plastic baggies of herbs from some lovely gardeners in our lives. Into the blender went small handfuls of thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano. This was definitely not a dish carefully designed to play up the qualities of any one herb. It was more confetti-style smatterings of lovely flavors and colors all baked up.

It strikes me that this would be something that could be fun to make with kids. Not all of the slicing — you should do that — but the layering and arranging of the different veggies, bright white kohlrabi and yellow potatoes and easter egg radishes pink- and red- and purple-rimmed. And nimble little fingers are great for picking herbs off of their stems, right?

The end result was herby and garlicky and good. The radishes mellowed a lot in cooking, mostly in flavor, but also a bit in color. Were I to make this again with a bit more ambition, I would probably blanch the potatoes and thicken the sauce, either by making a roux or just by tossing some flour into the blender, to shorten the overall baking time and to retain a little more of the radish colors. The colors were still there this time around, though, a bit mellowed, but still there, reminiscent of confetti, brightening up the middle of our work week.

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