Purple Potato and Artichoke Gratin

Potato and artichoke gratin is simple food, and deeply satisfying.  Now that summer is in full swing, our CSA box positively overflows with vegetables and fruit: apricots, exotic mints, heirloom tomatoes, Malabar spinach, garlic, onions, parsley, salad greens, Swiss chard, leeks, summer green apples, artichokes and even tiny young potatoes.  It’s with these – those artichokes and golf ball-sized purple potatoes – that I like to slice away and layer into a simple potato and artichoke gratin.

The abundance of summer will wane soon enough.  As soon as the leaves begin to turn, the wind takes a bit of chill, that bounty will fade into the sweet potatoes, dry beans, pumpkins and the storage crops that should last all of autumn, winter and into early spring again.  For now, though, we indulge ourselves – stuffing our bellies full of vegetables at every opportunity and storing what we can’t eat through fermentation, freezing or drying.

And that’s how we use up our CSA – and if you’re a CSA member, read more about what to do with what’s in your box.

Potato and Artichoke Gratin

Unlike the goopy, overly cheesy gratins you find on restaurant menus and in dated cookbooks, a real gratin is simple fare: creamy, light and delicate. The cook simply layers vegetables – such as potatoes and artichokes – in an oblong dish, covers them with a mixture of stock and cream, and tops them with breadcrumbs, cheese or herbs.  There’s no fussy bechamel, no flour, no corn starch, and just a dusting of grated cheese (if that).  The vegetables simmer away in the stock and cream which thicken slightly in the oven, while the top of the gratin bubbles and turns golden.

Make sure to use a homemade stock, if you can, as a good bone broth is a powerhouse of nutrition – imparting bone-building and adrenal-supporting minerals, and it’ll make your skin positively luminescent (taken along with a bit of cod liver oil and plenty of healthy fats and green vegetables).

 

Where to Find a Gratin Dish

Gratins are traditionally prepared in a large, shallow, oblong stoneware dish.  I found mine secondhand at our local thrift store, but if you’re stuck, you can find them online.  This recipe should be prepared using a 14-inch (approximately 3-quart) gratin dish which you can find here.

Purple Potato and Artichoke Gratin

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By Jenny Published: July 30, 2012

  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Ready In: 1 hr 10 mins

In mid-summer when the first potatoes appear and fresh artichokes are at their best, I like to prepare this simple potato and artichoke gratin. If you're not using whole artichokes, simply substitute artichoke hearts and omit step #2.

Ingredients

  • 6 large artichokes (or 8 ounces fresh or frozen artichoke hearts)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 3 medium leeks (white and light-green parts only, sliced thin)
  • 2 pounds purple potatoes (sliced 1/8 inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F, and set a large pot of water to boil.
  2. When the pot of water comes to a boil, drop in artichokes and boil until tender. Remove from the water and allow to cool until comfortable enough to handle. Trim away tough leaves to expose the heart. Remove the choke with a spoon and finely chop the artichoke heart, stem and any tender leaves.
  3. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. When it froths, stir in leeks and chopped artichokes, sauteing until fragrant and tender - about five minutes.
  4. Layer the bottom of a gratin dish with a 1/3 of the potatoes, top with 1/2 of the leeks and artichokes, sprinkle with 1/3 of the thyme and continue layering, ending with a layer of potatoes.
  5. Whisk cream, chicken stock, salt and pepper together in a small mixing bowl and pour over the layers of vegetables. Top with grated cheese and a final sprinkling of thyme.
  6. Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender and the gratin is nicely browned. Allow to cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.