My husband’s side of the family does not support a sweet potato side dish on the Thanksgiving table, but who can resist sweet potatoes covered in cheese and greens? It was pretty too. In my opinion, gratins have it all. 🙂 This one had a nice balance between the indulgence (béchamel sauce and cheese), sweetness (sweet potatoes), and healthiness (greens). The sweet potatoes were thinly sliced, so they cooked relatively quickly as well. Nice. This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
Yield: Serves 12
- 1 cup (about 5 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyére cheese
- freshly ground black pepper
- coarse salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
- 2 pounds medium red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds (I used a mandolin)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 pounds spinach (I used pre-washed small leaf but not baby spinach)
- 1 large bunch Swiss chard, about 1 pound, leaves and stems separated, stems reserved for another use and leaves cut into 1-inch slices
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter
- Prep greens: Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Increase heat to moderately high and add nutmeg followed by large handfuls of greens, stirring, until all are wilted. Season with salt and pepper then transfer greens to a large colander (over a large bowl) to drain well and press out liquid with back of a large spoon.
- Make sauce: Combine cream, milk, and garlic in small saucepan; bring to simmer; keep warm. Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Whisking constantly, bring to a boil and continue to cook roux, whisking, one minute. Then, slowly whisk in warm cream/milk and boil, whisking, for one additional minute. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
- Assemble gratin:Preheat oven to 400°F (on convection). Butter deep 9×13 baking dish (or spray with cooking spray).
- Spread half of sweet potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and a 1/4 cup of the cheese.
- Distribute half of the greens mixture over the cheese, then sprinkle salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and 1/4 cup of the cheese over it.
- Pour half of bechamel sauce over the first two layers then continue with the remaining sweet potatoes, more salt, pepper, herbs, and another 1/4 cup of cheese.
- Top with the remaining greens, salt, pepper and herbs.
- Pour the remaining béchamel sauce over the top of the gratin, pressing the vegetables slightly to ensure that they are as submerged as possible. Sprinkle with the last 1/4 cup of cheese.
- Bake gratin for about 35 minutes, until golden and bubbly, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Cover with foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Do ahead: You can make the entire gratin but not bake it up to a day in advance and keep it in the fridge. You can also make and bake the gratin and reheat it. Gratins reheat well, but they take almost as much time to gently heat through as they do to bake in the first place, especially deep ones like this.
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