You know it’s fall when you’re feet are always freezing. You’ve taken to shuffling around your apartment in your surrious smartwool socks in a vain attempt to stay warm. From your fourth-floor bedroom window, you watch squirrels building their nests in the oak trees. The air is cold, blessedly cold, making your nose run on your morning jog. Curled up in bed in the afternoon, where your toes aren’t so frigid, you finish reading Independent People, that Icelandic novel you started three, four months ago. The last few pages make you tear up, just a little bit. And you return to your annual ritual of preparing Heidi Swanson‘s winter rainbow gratin to welcome Autumn who has arrived, finally, finally.
Now that I’ve closed the cover on Laxness’ Independent People and am wrapping up A Game of Thrones (which is ridiculously amazing on audiobook, FYI), I’m on the hunt for my next big-read. Any ideas?
And just for you, my interweb friends, my fall music companion for your chilly afternoon. Enjoy!
winter rainbow gratin
adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking
6 small purple or red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into wedges
4 small shallots
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 large carrots (orange, yellow, purple), cut into 3-inch sticks, and cut in half lengthwise if thicker than your thumb (peel if not organic)
1 apple or pear, unpeeled, cored, cut into 6 wedges
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (pulse a slice of bread in a food processor)
handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil, ghee, or butter
s + p
Preheat the oven to 375, and position a rack in the middle of the oven.
In two large skillets (including one oven-proof skillet, such as cast-iron, if you have one), heat the oil or butter on medium heat. Divided equally between the skillets, add the potatoes, shallots, sweet potato and carrots – you use two skillets so the vegetables don’t overcrowd the pan and brown evenly. Saute for 15 minutes until golden.
Remove from heat and put all the vegetables together in the cast-iron skillet or an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir in the apple wedges. Top with the bread crumbs and a generous handful of Parmesan, and don’t stir them in – they’ll get golden and crunchy when baked.
Place the uncovered skillet or casserole dish into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Half-way through the baking time, give the vegetables a stir to incorporate the cheese and bread crumbs. When everything is caramelized and well-browned, remove from the oven and top with another handful of cheese. Serve immediately.