OHHHHH HAPPY DAY.
Carbohydrates are a tricksy one for many peoples, not just us type 1s, as I’ve explored a little before. They’ve been hailed, demonised, ostracised, allowed back in in moderation and everything in between. Some people can cope with more than others, some can’t so much as sniff a loaf before upping a dress size. I can handle certain things – oats, quionoa, sweet potato, squash – with minimal bother, but I generally see a triple cooked chip as a bit of a weekend treat.
The issue I have with simple white carbs (especially when cheese is also involved) is that to me, they’re as addictive as crack. I have a little bit, and then a bit more, and a bit more, then two days later I wake up and wonder where I went, before I pick up my fork again in search of that fluffy, warm, soft potato-based cuddle I’m eternally in need of.
Yes us insulin dependents can eat what we want, but there are blood sugar consequences that come with putting our face in a bowl of mash potato which I generally seek to avoid. I am quite confident when I say that this Fauxtato Gratin will answer your prayers, diabetic or not and in fact, whatever your prayer may be. Coping with a break up? Hungover? Get this recipe in your life, and everything will be ok for just a little while.
I use cauliflower for bulk in a lot of my cooking, but the main guests at this party are celeriac and fennel – both substantial, both entirely good for you. Don’t be scared of them, we’re literally going to slice them up and shove them in the oven. Then there’s a good whack of cheese, some half fat creme fraiche and an onion. This is not a complicated dish but DAMN it is good. Did I mention this is good? I’m talking some talk here…
Now, I used a food processor with the slicer attachment to keep all the hard work to a minimum. Mine was pretty cheap and I use it most weeks, plus it doubles as a blender. But if you don’t have one you can just finely slice the processor ingredients so don’t be put off. It’s so worth it.
The best part? You can fully put your face in this glorious, dreamy, cheesy heaven without a whiff of a carb hangover in sight. Get your loose trousers ready and REJOICE.
Heavenly Fauxtato Gratin
– 1 white onion
– 1 fennel bulb
– 1 celeriac
– 2 sprigs of rosemary
– 2 cloves of garlic
– pinch of nutmeg
– 50-100g mature cheddar, depending how cheesy you are
– 500ml tub of low fat Creme Fraiche
– tiny splash of milk
– olive oil
– salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 160oc.
2. Warm a sautée pan and heat a little oil. Finely slice the white onion and crush the garlic. Add them to the pan and sweat them off. The trick here is to add a pinch of salt to draw the water out of the onions, so they soften rather than colour. (CLEVER NO?)
3. Finely chop the rosemary and chuck him in too.
4. Once the onions are soft, add the creme fraiche and turn the temperature down to medium, adding a little milk to thin it out into a nice creamy consistency. Add a good pinch of salt, serious amounts of pepper and chuck in your nutmeg (just a pinch!). Let it simmer away for a bit, stirring frequently so nothing sticks or burns.
5. Meanwhile grab your processor and finely slice the celeriac and fennel. With the celeriac, just roughly peel him with a knife until you’re rid of the brown skin, including the funny knobbly bits at the top. The fennel bulb needs no such attention, just chuck him into that slicer. If you have no processor, peel the celeriac as above and then just thinly slice as you would our exiled potato friend.
6. Grate your cheese and add about half to the bubbling creme fraiche silky mixture.
7. Transfer all the sliced veg into the pan and stir through thoroughly.
8. Poor the lot into a high sided roasted tray, then flatten down with the back of your wooden spoon so it sits tight.
9. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
10. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
11. After half an hour, turn the oven up to 200o and remove the foil to crisp the top for another 15 minutes or so. What you’re looking for is that golden crispy top, and little to no resistance when you jab the tray of glory with a knife.
12. DISH THAT BABY UP. I love to serve this bad boy with some dense green veg to balance the cheesy creamy dreams. Sautéed crunchy green beans, broccoli, spinach and kale work really well. Alternatively just grab a spoon and get on in there.