Some of my favorite cool-weather side dishes are comforting vegetable casseroles like good old scalloped potatoes (a.k.a. potato gratin). Typical scalloped potato recipes bathe ingredients in a heavy cream sauce and top them with crispy buttered breadcrumbs or cheese. Our version saves about 160 calories and 12 grams of saturated fat compared to a traditional recipe. (Get the recipe for Scalloped Potatoes and More Healthy Vegetable Gratin Recipes.)
Want to know how we did it? Here are our 3 simple tricks:
Tip 1: Roast the vegetables first
Classic scalloped potato recipes rely on fat from butter and cream to carry the flavor. Not ours. We toss the vegetables with oil and roast them before they hit the baking dish. The sugars in the veggies begin to caramelize, adding a touch of sweetness. It’s not typical, but it’s a trick that maximizes flavor healthfully.
Tip 2: Make a lighter cream sauce
For our “cream” sauce, we opt for low-fat milk and thicken it with flour instead of using heavy cream. The sauce is done when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. The thick, velvety sauce clings nicely to the roasted vegetables, which we layer with the sauce so every bite is coated.
Tip 3: Broil for a golden topping
In a typical gratin, that classic golden crust is achieved by baking the vegetables for a long period of time in heavy cream until the top begins to brown or the gratin is topped with breadcrumbs or cheese and bits of butter so the topping is “fried” to crispy perfection. We use fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (or a modest sprinkle of cheese if you choose) and give it a quick broil to achieve the signature golden gratin crust without adding any additional fat.
What is your favorite vegetable to use in a gratin? Tell us what you think below.