I like to make this gratin when the first chill of autumn sets in and the welcome fragrance of baking vegetables fills the house. The gratin combines white and sweet potatoes with carrots and parsnips, along with end-of-summer favorites: fennel, tomato, and bell pepper. A light sprinkling of pecans on top adds texture and flavor.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, minced (1 cup)
- 1 yellow bell pepper, minced (2/3 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ripe tomato, diced (3/4 cup)
- 1 large sweet potato, thinly sliced (3 cups)
- 1 large russet potato, thinly sliced (2 1/3 cups)
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (3 cups)
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
- 1 parsnip, thinly sliced (3/4 cup)
- 1/3 cup ground pecans
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a 1 1/2% quart gratin dish or shallow baking dish and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Sprinkle on the thyme, basil, and sage. Cover, and cook to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, add the tomato, and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
In the prepared gratin dish, arrange layers of the sweet potato, russet potato, fennel, carrot, and parsnip, overlapping and seasoning lightly with salt and pepper as you layer the vegetables. Pour on the reserved onion mixture. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the vegetables are tender, about 55 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with pecans, and bake uncovered for 10 minutes longer to toast the pecans. Serve hot.
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