Cheddar Vegetable Au Gratin

Cheddar Vegetable Au Gratin

Cheddar Vegetable Au Gratin is one of those deliciously flavourful cheesy vegetable casseroles that are the perfect side dish for any time of the year — combining lots of vegetables, and tons of creamy mornay sauce, all baked to perfection in one casserole dish. Gratin is a French technique in which the top has a golden-brown crust usually used with breadcrumbs or grated cheese.

Vegetable Au Gratin is one of my husband’s favorite recipes. Extremely simple, creamy, dreamy, buttery and nutty with freshness of the vegetables– this is a dish you need in your repertoire.

Classical French cuisine has been extraordinarily influential in the culinary world and countless sauces have derived from these originals. Bechamel or “white sauce,” is a simple milk-based sauce made from butter, flour, and milk and used the world over in variety of recipes. Add some grated cheese in the sauce and it becomes ‘Mornay Sauce’.

This recipe reminds my husband of a small restaurant called ‘Sheeba’ in Ahmedabad, India. They served revolutionary world cuisine 40 years ago and Vegetable Au Gratin was one of their most popular dishes. Vegetable Au Gratin was always one of the dishes his parents ordered whenever they dined at that restaurant. This recipe evokes some beautiful childhood memories for him.

This irresistibly creamy vegetable au gratin, loaded with vegetables can be a great side dish and doubles up as a fantastic main course as well!

Ingredients

For Sautéing
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup julienned carrots
¼ cup julienned beans
¼ cup finely sliced onions
¼ cup julienned cabbage
¼ cup julienned green pepper

Other Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
few drops of oil
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 ½ cup cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Directions

Step-1

Heat butter and few drops of oil in a pan and add the carrot, beans, cabbage, peppers, onion and salt and cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.  Switch off the heat and keep aside.

Step-2

Melt 2-tablespoons butter in another pan with few drops of oil and then add the plain flour. Stir continuously until a paste forms. Continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add the warm milk to the roux gradually, stirring as you go, until you get a smooth sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously, until the sauce has thickened.

Step-3

Next, add the salt, pepper, ½ cup cheese, sauteed vegetables and gently mix. Turn the heat off.

Step-4

Preheat oven to 180C/ 160C Fan/Gas 4

Transfer this to a lightly greased baking tray and sprinkle the remaining grated cheese. You can spread some butter on top (optional).

Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven or until the cheese turns golden.

Serve hot with bread or on its own.

Tips & Variations

  1. I always add few drops of oil while heating butter as it prevents the butter from burning.
  2. The key to a good sauce is to whisk, whisk, whisk! This will ensure a smooth and creamy sauce.
  3. If the sauce is turning lumpy, add a little bit of ice-cold water instead of the next splash of milk and whisk like crazy! It will magically sort out any lumps!
  4. This sauce is very forgiving. Sauce too thick? Whisk in more milk until you get your desired consistency; if it is too thin, continue to simmer it down, allowing evaporation to thicken the sauce up.
  5. I have added julienned vegetables in this au gratin as it reminds my husband of eating it in a particular restaurant. Finely chopped vegetables works fine too.
  6. You can add other vegetables like cauliflower, peas, potato, baby corns and broccoli as well.
  7. Use good quality cheese in your dish. I would avoid bagged, pre-grated cheeses because it contains cellulose (an anti-caking agent) that can in some cases cause the cheese not to melt as it should. I have topped the bake with cheddar cheese, parmesan and/or panko breadcrumbs work well too.

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