Making a thing of beauty from ugly veg

Jerusalem artichoke and potato gratin
Jerusalem artichoke and potato gratin

Variety is the spice for younger tea drinkers

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Winter vegetables are mostly knobbly, dirt-covered and ugly-looking things that need a little work to bring out their better qualities.

Celeriac, swede and turnips battle for the title of most under-used and underrated vegetables grown. However, the crown goes to the Jerusalem artichoke.

I’m a great fan of it with its earthy-flavoured white flesh and use it often at this time of year.

It’s great with fish, as a soup or puree and can even be roasted whole like a baked potato.

Last week one of our customer’s dietary requirements was for gluten-free vegetarian food. We were set the challenge of making a few dishes as our current vegetarian choices included either flour or breadcrumbs.

One we came up with was a Jerusalem artichoke and potato gratin served with wild mushrooms, roasted shallots and parsley juice. I thought the gratin would be a great as it can be used in so many different ways – perfect as a winter lunch with a crisp salad or as a side dish for the Sunday roast. It’s also something different to offer your vegetarian friends who are fed up with risotto.

Ingredients

300g Jerusalem artichokes

300g potatoes

150ml double cream

Sea salt

Pepper

Butter

Method

1. Peel and thinly slice the artichokes and potatoes.

2. Wash the potatoes in cold water to remove some of the starch. (This stops them going grey as they cook).

3. Line a baking dish with greaseproof paper and butter.

4. Layer the potatoes and artichokes in the dish and season every fourth layer.

5. Heat the cream in a pan and pour over the potato and artichokes.

6. Brush with melted butter and bake in a pre-heated oven 220C/gas 7 for 40 minutes.

7. Test with a skewer which will go through the gratin with ease. When the top turns a lovely golden brown it’s ready to serve.

Lawrence’s restaurant is Fat Olives at Emsworth (fatolives.co.uk). Call 01243 377914.