Super crunchy veggies with sweet potato and walnuts gratin


Yes, I know, I am probably getting boring with so much sweet potato, but I could not resist to share the veggie dish that we had for Thanksgiving. I am not talking about the turkey in this posting, the bird is already celebrated enough, and the veggies normally get forgotten under its shadow.
I think it is a crime to devote so much time and effort on cooking the turkey and not paying attention to the side dish – just veggies, most people say, and there we go once again with over cooked, tasteless veggies.
The thing is if they are cooked properly, they can share the spotlight with our famous bird and balancing the meat and veggies portions won’t be a sacrifice.
Our Canadian Thanksgiving is over now but these suggestions might be useful for other holidays, Christmas isn’t far away.

For our Thanksgiving dinner I made asparagus, green beans and radish sautée with garlic and olive oil and sweet potato and walnut gratin substituting mashed potatoes.

Super crunchy “sexy” veggies with sweet potato and walnuts gratin

You will need a big pot of boiling water, a bowl with ice and water and your veggies. Have everything ready before you start.
Boil each kind of veggies separately for 1 min. exactly. Remove from the boiling water with a small drain and immediately immerse in the icy water to cool them off. This will stop the cooking process right away. Take out of the cold water and pat it dry. Repeat the same process with all your veggies. You can do this ahead of time.
Right at the time when your dinner is ready, bring olive oil to heat in a large frying pan, add some minced garlic and sautée all the veggies in it, all at once for about 2 min. Serve immediately.


Sweet potato and walnut gratin

This is a Christine Cushing recipe that I slightly modified. Easy and tasty, can be prepared ahead of time and makes up for a very nice presentation with the colorful sweet potato and caramelized walnuts. Plan ahead though, the sweet potatoes need to marinate for at least one hour or over night. The flavors are amazing, thyme and chives mix so well with the sweetness of the potatoes.

6 portions

2 medium sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup whipping (35%) cream – I used 10% cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme
1 tbs chopped fresh chives
pinch of nutmeg
1 egg
1 egg yolk
Coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Spicy Caramelized Maple Walnuts
1/2 cup walnut halves
pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tbs maple syrup

Beat egg and egg yolk in a large bowl with a whisk or fork. Add cream and milk. Beat to combine. Add the sweet potatoes and chopped herbs. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Spicy Maple Walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add the walnuts to a medium sized bowl. Add cayenne, salt and maple syrup. Toss to coat. Spread the coated walnuts on the baking sheet. Bake on top rack until walnuts are slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly. Chop half of the walnuts into smaller pieces – the smaller pieces will be used between the layers of sweet potatoes. The bigger pieces will be used to top the gratin. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Layer some of the sweet potatoes into a baking dish. Layer a sprinkle of the smaller pieces of walnuts. Continue to layer the gratin with sweet potatoes and nuts. Drizzle with any remaining cream mixture. Bake the gratin for 40 minutes and sprinkle with the remaining larger pieces of walnuts. Continue to bake until potatoes are tender and filling is golden and bubbly, another 10 to 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Slice and serve warm.



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