Sunday, November 15, 2009

Partially Organic Gratin

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to go food shopping with a few friends (Jen, Lisa, Kristin) and a nutritionist from Food Trainers. In addition to regular nutritional counseling, whether for weight loss or sports training or living a gluten free life, they also offer "market foodtraining." Our trip to the grocery store was an example of a market field trip in which a nutritionist leads a small group through the store, making suggestions about when to buy organic, which fish contains the least amount of mercury, or simply which packaged foods are the most healthful (particularly helpful for those who don't cook!). You can read a more extensive summary by my friend, Jen, here.

I think that I generally make the 'right' choices when grocery shopping, so was pleased to discover that I recognized most of the information that was provided to us. But I did learn more about making better choices with regard to purchasing local (within 100 miles) and/or organic products. Although I do purchase some produce from my local farmers' market, I find that when I hit the actual grocery store, I tend to not pay attention to organic vs. conventional produce, unless it relates to the price. I did learn that by purchasing even some organic produce I can still reduce my overall pesticide ingestion. Also, if I make the effort to recognize the origin of produce, California vs. Chile or New York vs. Ohio, I can make a conscious choice to select produce that didn't have to travel as far to get to my grocery store.

With all of this information at my fingertips, I have been more aware of what I am buying, even purchasing organic milk about every other trip to the store (the Whole Foods 365 brand quart of milk is only $.99! vs. $3.69 for the organic choice - it's a tough choice!). And since I am still thinking about Thanksgiving side dish ideas that will not make you feel like a fat bastard, I perused the produce aisles today and ended up buying some Belgian Endive (from...Belguim, Ooops!) and some LOCAL ORGANIC potatoes to make a gratin that I read about in The New York Times.

Usually gratins are loaded with heavy cream and cheese (yes!) but this one eliminates the cream, though it still allows for the cheese so that you get the essence of a gratin. Umm...I actually added a bit more cheese. (Just a bit!) I think an extra 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan sprinkled on top is not going to make or break the calorie count. It's going to be the extra dollop of homemade whipped cream on top of your pie that does that.

Endive and Potato Gratin
(Adapted From Martha Rose Shulman)

1 pound Belgian endive (about 4 medium), quartered lengthwise
1 pound small red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons walnut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese (about 2 ounces)
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Oil a two-quart baking or gratin dish. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the endives. Blanch for 1 - 2 minutes, and then transfer to the ice water. Cool in the ice water, then drain completely and dry on paper towels. Cut crosswise into thirds and transfer to a large bowl.

2. Steam (or boil) the quartered potatoes for 10 - 15 minutes, until tender. Add to the bowl with the endives, along with the walnuts, parsley, thyme, walnut (or olive) oil and half of the Gruyère. Season generously with salt and pepper, and toss everything gently together. Turn into the prepared baking dish, scraping all of the contents of the bowl into the dish. Sprinkle the remaining Gruyère and Parmesan over the top.

3. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until the edges of the vegetables are browned and the gratin is sizzling. Remove from the heat and serve hot or warm. Serves four.

Advance preparation: You can prepare the ingredients several hours before baking. Toss them together in the bowl again before you turn them into the gratin dish.


WendyB said...

I have a bad feeling that better choices don't include the Cadbury Dairy Milk and Gummi Life Savers snack I just had. Darn.

Lauren said...

Glad you liked your tour and that a few new points were raised. Let us know if you'd like to attend another one, thanks for the post.