This spring version of the familiar classic enriches the traditional blend of potatoes and cheese with leeks and asparagus. The resulting gratin is creamy, tender, and nourishing, filled with robust flavor along with healthful minerals, calcium, and garlic.
This is comfort food with added nutrition that will fill your kitchen with mouth-watering fragrances and warm you nicely, a good choice for these sometimes-chilly early spring days.
2 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, sliced very thinly
2 leeks, white parts only, well-washed and cut into thin rings
1 pound asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cups cream
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
pinch freshly-grated nutmeg
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3/4 cup grated good-quality Gruyere or Emmental cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, place the potato slices, leek rings, and asparagus pieces. Add the cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally and very gently with a rubber spatula so the potato slices don‘t fall apart, over medium-high heat until the cream boils.
2. Pour mixture into a 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake in preheated oven around 40 minutes until top is bubbly and golden, and potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and let sit for about 15 minutes. The dish will thicken slightly as it cools.
Inspired by Comfort Food, by The Best of Fine Cooking (Taunton Press, 2004).