As the days get shorter and darker, and as the temperature dips further downward, my cravings for “comfort food” become stronger and more persistent. Unfortunately, food that brings comfort often comes with a high caloric price.
This gratin has everything that I expect from a comforting winter dish–EXCEPT the empty calories! Potatoes are fine and dandy, of course, but the use of turnips (high in Vitamin C) and parsnips (rich in potassium and dietary fiber) provides a similar texture and some added nutritional benefits. Yes, there is some full-fat dairy in this recipe, but it was split between eight servings of the finished dish, so it doesn’t concern me too much. The other benefit of using sturdy root veggies is that you can prep the dish in advance and then refrigerate until you are actually ready to pop it in the oven. If you don’t have gratin dishes or large ramekins, you can use a glass casserole dish.
The end result was deeper in flavor than a potato gratin, which I really liked. There was just enough cheese to hold everything together without turning into a goppy mess. The buttery, toasted panko was a really tasty topping, and it gave just enough crunch to add some textural contrast to the softened vegetables. All in all, I was really happy with how this turned out, and I’ll definitely be adding it to the comfort food rotation. Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes or until almost tender. Drain; let stand 5 minutes. Arrange about 1/2 cup vegetable mixture into each of 8 (5 1/2-inch) round gratin dishes coated with cooking spray.
Combine milk, broth, flour, salt, and pepper in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a simmer. Cook 4 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk until thick. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Spoon about 3 tablespoons sauce over each serving.
Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko; toast 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over cheese mixture. Place dishes on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on top. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.