Oozy, gooey, creamy, cheesy, (slightly) healthy vegetable gratin, who can say no to that? The vegetables are slowly sautéed until softened and fragrant and then mixed with a cheesy béchamel sauce. Topped off with some panic breadcrumbs and then finished off in the oven. An amazing side dish if there ever was one!
Leek, Fennel & Spinach Gratin
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 leek, rinsed & finely chopped
- 1 fennel, thinly sliced
- 300 g spinach or other leafy green, roughly chopped
- 50 g butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 500 ml milk
- Grated nutmeg
- ± 75 g parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Pepper & salt to taste
- ± 50 g panko bread crumbs
- Small bunch parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a large heavy based pan heat the olive and add 1 tbsp butter. Add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes until translucent and fragrant. Add the garlic, sauté for another 30 seconds then add the leek and fennel. Give it a good mix so it’s all coated, turn the heat down and put the lid on the pan. Let it slowly steam / sauté on low heat. Stir now and then while you make your sauce.
In a separate heavy based pan add 50 g of butter, when starting to foam, add the flour. Stir well. Keep stirring, it will first turn a very light colour and slowly become more yellow, ± 3 minutes.
Slowly pour in the milk, a small amount at a time, while you keep stirring, using a whisk to get rid of the lumps. Let it bubble away on low heat for ± 10 minutes while you stir now and then. Stick a wooden spoon into the sauce and draw a line with your finger on the back. If the line holds, you’re done. If it flows back you need a bit longer.
When the béchamel sauce is done add the parmesan cheese, grate in a good amount of nutmeg and season with pepper and salt. Taste and adjust to your liking.
Add the béchamel to the vegetable mix, stir to coat. Then mix in the spinach. Transfer the mixture into an oven dish and sprinkle some panko bread crumbs over the top.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until bubbly and golden and sprinkle on some parsley.