Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sweet Potato, Apple, and Leek Casserole

 When I first saw this recipe, I immediately thought of my Butternut and Apple Gratin, and I wondered if it would be too similar. But then I looked a little more closely and decided: similar-yes, the same-no, worth trying-absolutely YES! So here we are!
 It's a Trisha Yearwood recipe and it has Fall written all over it. Sweet potatoes, apples, fresh thyme.. three of my all time favorite things EVER in the whole wide world. And I must say it was VERY easy to make! It's a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving, you can do it easily a day or two in advance, and then just reheat for the big dinner! It's actually even better the second day, so if you CAN do it in advance, do it! Oh, and it's a great vegetarian dish, in case you happen to have any non-meat eaters at your table! Even if you're not making it for Thanksgiving, it would be amazing with a store bought rotisserie chicken and some cranberry sauce, or even as a vegetarian main dish along with a side salad. Doesn't that sound fabulous??? Try it!

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts sliced lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 large or 2 medium red skinned apples, such as Gala or Honeycrisp (about 12 ounces), halved, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and 2 tablespoons water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the thyme and then the cream and cook until the liquid thickens, about 2 minutes; set aside. 
In a 2-quart shallow baking dish, arrange the sweet potato in overlapping layers. Spread the leek mixture evenly over the potatoes. Arrange the apples in an overlapping layer on the leeks. Brush the apples with the remaining tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the Parmesan is golden brown and melted, about 20 minutes more. The tip of a paring knife should easily pierce the apples and potatoes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Be sure to clean the leeks very well: After you slice them in half lengthwise, hold them under running water and separate the layers in order to rinse out any sand that is between the layers. Then proceed with slicing them crosswise, as the recipe directs.
 If you don't have leeks, you could absolutely substitute a mild or sweet onion, thinly sliced.
If you don't have fresh thyme, then by all means, use about a tsp of dried thyme leaves. 

Oh, and one other thing...  be sure to really season your casserole. Like, be generous with the salt and pepper. If your food tastes bland, it's because you didn't add enough salt! If you are restricting salt from your diet, then use a salt substitute. I know it seems simple to say, but most times, when people ask me why my food tastes better than when they make it, it's because I always season my food aggressively. Taste as you go, and it'll be fabulous when it's finished!


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