I think my daughter may be a ‘supertaster’. She’s always been very picky about food and she knows when I’m trying to hide something she doesn’t like inside a dish. She was exclusively breast fed until she was a year old, then went right to solid food. No mushy textures of baby food for this one, no way. Not only did she go straight to solid food but one of the only ways I could get vegetables into her was to pickle them. Pickled carrots, asparagus, beans, etc. I spent a great deal of time trying to find ways to get her to eat a more rounded diet. It wasn’t my cup of tea, however, so as soon as she was old enough to reason with, she had to eat what everyone else was eating. It was tough and many times she went to bed hungry but eventually she learned that she had to try a bit of everything on her plate and she is still picky but to a lesser degree. She’s eaten all sorts of food from indistinguishable sushi dockside in South Korea, to bluot snails in France. Foods she will not tolerate are mushrooms, whole tomatoes, and parsnips.
I really don’t get the big deal she makes about parsnips. I do remember not loving them that much when I was young but then all my mom did was boil them like carrots. Parsnips are very versatile, they make a lovely soup or puree, are great roasted, and as I found out are super in a gratin. No matter how good this gratin was, my daughter still discovered the parsnips hidden away between the creamy layers of potatoes, onions, cream, and cheese. I absolutely loved this dish and I found that the parsnips added a lovely sweetness to the sharpness of the Gruyere.
Potato and Parsnip Gratin (adapted from Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme by Sylvia Fountaine,Feasting At Home)
- 4 large (not woody) parsnips
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1 med onion
- 2 Cups heavy whipping cream
- butter for greasing the pan
- 1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg ( or ground)
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 T Fresh Thyme
- 1 T Flour or Rice Flour
- 3 large minced cloves garlic
- 6 ounces, grated gruyere cheese
Peel Parsnips. Using a mandolin, slice parsnips and potatoes to 1/8 thin slices. The thinner the slices the better. If you don’t have a mandolin, slice them as thinly as possible.
Thinly slice the onion.
Grate the cheese.
Generously grease a 6x 9 inch baking dish with butter.Layer the parsnips, potatoes and onion and 1/2 of the cheese and 1/2 of the thyme, reserving the bigger pieces of parsnips for the final layer. Press down and make sure layers are even. It’s OK if the inside layers are messy. Repeat.In a small pot heat 2 Cups whipping cream. Whisk in salt, nutmeg, the remaining thyme, white pepper, flour and the garlic and when it just comes to a simmer, pour over the layered potatoes and parsnips, slanting the baking dish to get the cream in all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, a few more leaves of thyme and a little sprinkling of nutmeg. Cover securely with a lid or foil and bake for 50 minutes on the middle rack. Remove foil, pierce with fork, potatoes and parsnips should be al dente. (If not you may need to cook longer with the foil on. ) Don’t worry if it seems watery at this point, bake another 15 minutes uncovered , or until golden and bubbly. It is important to let it sit at room temp for 15-20 minutes before serving, so it sets and thickens.
Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 1 hour 10 mins Total time: 1 hour 25 mins Yield: 6