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Secrets for Slimmed-Down Scalloped Potatoes
Some of our favorite cool-weather side dishes are comforting vegetable casseroles like good old scalloped potatoes (aka potato gratin). Typical scalloped potato recipes bathe ingredients in a heavy cream sauce and top them with crispy buttered breadcrumbs or cheese. Our version saves about 160 calories and 12 grams of saturated fat compared to a traditional recipe.
Want to know how we did it? Here are our three simple tricks:
Tip 1: Roast the vegetables first
Classic scalloped potato recipes rely on fat from butter and cream to carry the flavor. Not ours. We toss the vegetables with oil and roast them before they hit the baking dish. The sugars in the vegetables begin to caramelize, adding a touch of sweetness. It's not typical, but it's a trick that maximizes flavor healthfully.
Tip 2: Make a lighter cream sauce
For our "cream" sauce, we opt for low-fat milk and thicken it with flour instead of using heavy cream. The sauce is done when it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. The thick, velvety sauce clings nicely to the roasted vegetables, which we layer with the sauce so every bite is coated.
Tip 3: Broil for a golden topping
In a typical gratin, that classic golden crust is achieved by baking the vegetables for a long time in heavy cream until the top begins to brown, or the gratin is topped with breadcrumbs or cheese and bits of butter and the topping is "fried" to crispy perfection. We use fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (or a modest sprinkle of cheese if you choose) and give it a quick broil to achieve the signature golden gratin crust without adding any additional fat.
Scalloped Potatoes Recipe
This creamy potato casserole, full of roasted potato slices and a creamy sauce, is topped with crunchy breadcrumbs. It goes well with just about anything--from a Sunday roast to weeknight pork chops.
Makes 8 servings, about 1 cup each.
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
2 pounds fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper
2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
1 1/2 cups fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see tips) or 1/2 cup shredded or crumbled cheese
Position racks in upper and lower third of oven; preheat to 425 F.
Toss potatoes in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil until well coated. Divide between 2 baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Roast, stirring once and rotating the pans top to bottom about halfway through, until tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add milk and continue to stir, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. (See tips)
When the potatoes are done, remove from the oven. Preheat the broiler.
Transfer half the potatoes to a 2-quart, broiler-safe baking dish. Spread half the sauce over the potatoes. Add the remaining potatoes and top with the remaining sauce.
Combine breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl (skip this step if you are topping with cheese).
Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture (or cheese) over the gratin. Place under the broiler and broil, watching closely, until the gratin is bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 1 to 5 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
To make ahead: Roast potatoes (Step 2) up to 30 minutes ahead. Prepare the sauce (Step 3), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day; gently reheat until steaming before combining with the potatoes.
To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs.
To add extra flavor to the cream sauce, at the end of Step 3 stir in 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage or parsley. Or make it cheesy by stirring in 1/2 cup shredded or crumbled cheese, such as Gruyere, Swiss, Cheddar or blue cheese.
Per serving: 213 calories; 6 g fat (1 g sat, 4 g mono); 4 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 6 g protein; 3 g fiber; 307 mg sodium; 513 mg potassium
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (15 percent daily value)
2 carbohydrate servings
Scalloped Potatoes, Potato gratin, Potato casserole, American
Secrets for Slimmed-Down Scalloped Potatoes
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