Beetroot, Sweet Potato & Spinach Au Gratin

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As I must have mentioned earlier, I'm trying to put an end to my eating out tendencies and make more stuff at home. I'm not saying everything I make is fantastically healthy, but I'm thinking its perhaps better than not knowing the ingredients used and the amount of fat used. In this case, I know how much butter I'm injecting into my body if my serving size is unusually large and also I can rest assured I have enough veggies going inside me.

The recipe is fairly simple. Ingredients you can get in every store. And not too many complicated techniques. I love beets. Also I have a newly purchased mandoline slicer (not the musical instrument). The advantage of using a mandoline is that I didn't have to pre-cook any of the root veggies. The thin slices cook much quicker than if you were to have thicker slices.

I got sweet potatoes thinking they would be the yellow variety. Yes, when I think of building up a dish, I kind of think of colours as well. But these turned out to be purple on the outside and white inside. I have a whole bag of them left after this dish, wonder what I can use it for.

This leaf is what we call 'Cheera' back home. Not the 'Palak' that is available generally. Over here they are also known as 'Rajgira' or 'Chawli' leaves with the generic Spinach that is applied over all these different varieties.

Au Gratins (pronounced au grah-tan) are typically pre cooked veggies, topped with a cheese sauce, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and baked/broiled till golden brown in colour. I switched it a Bechamel sauce because perhaps butter is less sinful than cheese. How convenient of me to think so!

For breadcrumbs, I used homemade Panko. Well, I can't call it Panko cos its probably trademarked. I'll be giving you the technique for that soon (Already up!). These breadcrumbs make a big difference as compared to the regular stuff. They are more crunchy, absorb less oil and because of their larger surface area have a different texture completely.

Ingredients (Veggies)

2 Beets Skinned and sliced thin
1 largish Sweet Potato Skinned and sliced thin
1 cup spinach chopped fine
Salt & Pepper to taste

Ingredients (Bechamel Sauce)
30g butter
4 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk
4 cloves garlic smashed
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
1/2 tsp pepper

For the Bechamel

In a saucepan, melt butter,
Add all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon till it all comes together.
Keep stirring for 3-4 mins without browning. The idea is to cook out the flour to get rid of the raw taste
Add milk and garlic, use a whisk to keep stirring the mix till it becomes a thick sauce.
Flavour with nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180C
In a 7"x 3" baking dish, place veggies in layers. Beets, Potatoes, Spinach, Beets, Potatoes, Spinach.
Liberally season each layer with salt & pepper cos thats all the flavour you are adding to this.
Pour Bechamel on top. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.
Bake for 45 mins or till golden brown on top.

I got a little impatient and took out mine a little early. Wait to cool, if you're that patient. Else, Dive in!

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