First, I must let you know that during the time of COVID-19, we are cooking and eating much later than our usual routine, and therefore some dishes have not been photographed. But no apologies – this is a chance for us to use our imagination, not only for the visual appeal of the dish but also the aroma it floods the kitchen with as it cooks. This was made in April, after a few weeks of the lockdowns, and it brought joy to the table! The gremolata with the gratin lifts the baked dish, and we all became quiet as we ate the dish with our meal.
This recipe really makes use of a mandolin – a trusty and much loved tool in my kitchen. Daily it slices, grates, shreds or juliennes ingredients for salads, chips, bakes, and a hundred other uses. Slice a fennel thinly and add olive oil and lemon juice. Divine. Shred potatoes for latkes and rosti. Thinly slice cucumber for translucent salads. Julienne carrots, turnips, jicama, zucchini, kohlrabi for salads, fritters and stir-frying. Slice pears and apples for tarts for just for glazing beautifully in butter and sugar. Shred cabbage for coleslaw. Onions or other soft vegetables so thinly sliced for quick pickling.
Food processors are equally as useful, and mine has an adjustable slice so that it will produce thick slices for baking or see-through whispy slices for salads. You should see my daikon salad with such thin slices! But the processor is such a large machine, most times it is simpler to use the mandolin. Mine is 20 years old or more, a German brand, and I hope it lasts me another 20 years.
The mandoline makes swift work of this dish. Slice beetroot, potatoes and eggplant, layer with some garlic, and cook with wine and stock. Top with Gremolata as you bring it to the table. Special.
Of course, if you don’t have a mandoline, the food processor or a sharp knife can easily be used instead.
The images in this post are from Unsplash.
Beetroot, Potato and Eggplant Oven Baked in Wine with Gremolata
600g beetroot, peeled and thinly sliced
300g potatoes, preferably waxy, peeled and thinly sliced
1 eggplant (200 – 250g), sliced a little thicker
3 sprigs fresh thyme and 3 fresh sage leaves
3 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
1 lime or lemon, zested
0.5 tspn turmeric powder
0.5 cup dry white wine
0.5 cup hot vegetable stock or water
2 Tblspn olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
medium bunch of parsley
1 clove garlic
1 green chilli
1 orange, zested
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Keep half the potatoes aside and place the rest of them, the sliced beets and eggplant in a bowl with the turmeric, zest, herbs and salt and pepper. Toss well, then push into a baking dish about 20cm x 25cm.Halve the lime or lemon that you zested and tuck the halves into two of the corners of the dish. Top the dish with the remaining potatoes.
Pour the white wine and stock over the vegetables, then sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the top, and drizzle over the olive oil.
Place in the oven and bake for around 40 mins. The time will depend on the thickness of the vegetables. Check it at 3o mins, but it might take longer than 40 mins if the vegetable slices are on the thicker side.
Make the gremolata by finely chopping the parsley with the garlic, chilli. orange zest and salt and pepper. This can be done by hand, in a small processor or with a hand held blender.
When the potato and beetroot gratin is cooked – nice and crispy on top – check that the slices underneath are also cooked – sprinkle the gremolata over the top. Then serve with a green salad, some cooked burghul if you have any on hand, and some crusty bread or flatbread.
recipe notes and alternatives
Beetroot notoriously takes a while to cook, even in slices. If you are worried about this, zap the slices (only the beetroot) in a microwave for a few seconds before using in the dish. I find this isn’t necessary for young fresh beetroot, but it is helpful if using older ones.