Spring cleaning time. I get on these kicks where "I'm totally gonna eat healthy this week and this vedge looks so amazing and I can totally cook it all within the week and none of it will go to waste!" Well, now it's the end of the week (it's been closer to two since I bought all this shit), and I have two drawers of nearly past-prime produce.
What to purge this time? Let's see...never used up that kohlrabi that I mentioned a week ago, had some parsnips, a fennel bulb, and I still had a bit of the broccoli rabe left. In fact, it's getting ready to bloom. In the drawer. The kohlrabi and parsnip are slightly lignified. I also have some cellared apples that need to move on out.
I really wanted to make a gratin. Today was cold and gray after a blissfully nice couple days spoiled me. I didn't want to cop out and make a big soup (again). I needed something golden, bubbly and from-the-oven.
Bechamel is so great because it's fast and easy, and even though you use a knob of butter to make the roux, you can use skim milk instead of cream and it's not that big a deal. Nutmeg and pepper took a little edge to it, and keep it from just being country gravy.
I was feeling extra lazy and used the food processor to slice the vegetables. I buttered the Dutch oven and rustically (read: sloppily) layered the parsnip, kohlrabi, apple, broccoli rabe and kohlrabi greens (pre-wilted in a salt water bath in the microwave) and fennel, spooning bechamel and a bit of Parm Redge in between. It ended up nearly topping up my Le Creuset, but that's fine - bechamel freezes and reheats like a dream.
A gratin this earthy-sweet begged for a pork loin chop brined in hard cider and crushed fennel seed, pounded into a paillard and quick-seared in a hot pan. Cider reduced into a simple pan-sauce - all it took to make a perfect meal.