Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Baked Swedes Au Gratin

Swedes are still abundant in the stores, as the last of the winter vegetables are made available before the spring crop is harvested. Also known by their less appetizing name of rutabaga (or yellow turnip), they are an excellent substitute for potatoes in this creamy, cheesy side dish. When you swap out low-carb swedes for the high-carb potato, you gain a good source of fiber, vitamins C & B6, potassium, folate and calcium. The first time I made this recipe for my family, I tried half potato and half swede, hoping they would be more receptive to the idea of eating turnips. To my surprise, they loved the swede and requested that next time I leave out the potato! So, I did and they were a hit. The sauce is really a gravy made from chicken stock with grated cheese sprinkled throughout the vegetable layers. When baked, it's the gooey, yummy cheese that shines through to make it appear that the sauce is all cheese. If you like Au Gratin Potatoes and are looking for a lower carb alternative, try swedes. I think you'll be pleased, too.

Baked Swedes Au Gratin
(Makes six 1-cup servings)

3 tablespoons zero trans fat buttery spread light, such as Smart Balance
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
1½ teaspoons dried rosemary
Black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 large swede (1 lb.11 oz.), thinly sliced (aka. rutabaga or yellow turnip)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (2% milk reduced fat)

1. Prepare the sauce by melting buttery spread in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir while cooking for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly add chicken stock while whisking constantly. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and add rosemary, parmesan cheese and pepper; stir until cheese is melted. Preheat oven to 400-degrees.

2. Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Ladle a small amount of the sauce into dish and swirl until bottom is coated. Place 1/3 of the sliced turnip in a layer on the bottom of the dish, sprinkle with 1/3 of the onion and drizzle 1/3 of the remaining sauce over the vegetables. Repeat with another layer of turnips, half of the remaining onion and half of the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ cup cheddar cheese. Top with a final layer of turnip, the remaining onion, the remaining sauce and the remaining ¾ cup cheddar cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

3. After 45 minutes, remove foil and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes until turnips are fork tender and cheese is golden brown. (If you notice that the cheese is browning too much, cover with foil for remaining cooking time.) Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information per serving: 184 calories, 15.7 g carbohydrate, 9 g total fat, 4.4 g saturated fat, 3.5 g fiber, 10.5 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

How does this recipe compare with traditional Potatoes Au Gratin? This recipe has significantly less calories, carbs and fat (especially saturated fat). For comparison, the nutritional information per 1 cup of home-prepared potatoes au gratin made with margarine is 323 calories, 27.7 g carbohydrate, 18.6 g total fat, 8.6 g saturated fat, 4 g fiber, 12.2 g protein.

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