The walnuts in the sauce and topping of this creamy gratin make for a satisfying dose of good fats and protein. This cozy dish is perfect with a little side salad. My gratin method here works with all kinds of thinly sliced vegetables, including potatoes and sweet potatoes, and even small florets of broccoli and cauliflower. Nutritional yeast (an inactive yeast) is what brings the slightly cheesy and savoury flavour. It can be found in spice aisles of supermarkets.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease 7 x 11 x 2 in (18 x 28 x 5 cm) baking dish with olive oil. If you donu2019t have this size, any baking dish with a 6-cup (1.5 L) capacity will work.
To make topping, in food processor or the dry blade container of a high-speed blender, combine all topping ingredients. Pulse mixture until you have a crumbly, slightly moist consistency. Set aside.
To make walnut sauce, in medium saucepan, combine diced potatoes, walnut halves, and garlic. Cover potatoes with cold water and set pot over medium-high heat. Bring saucepan to a boil and then simmer until potatoes are tender and falling apart, about 15 minutes. Drain and allow to cool slightly.
In upright blender, combine drained potato and walnut mixture, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, water, salt, and pepper. Blend mixture on high until completely smooth and creamy.
Spread 1/2 cup (125 mL) walnut sauce across bottom of prepared baking dish. Arrange slices of zucchini in dish. Lightly season arranged zucchini with salt and pepper. Pour remaining walnut sauce overtop zucchini. Lightly tap baking dish on the counter a few times to evenly distribute sauce.
Cover baking dish with foil and bake in oven for 15 minutes. At the 15-minute mark, remove foil from baking dish, and sprinkle topping evenly across the surface. Bake gratin for another 15 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and slightly thickened, and topping is lightly browned. Serve gratin hot.
This recipe is part of the Cooking with The First Mess collection.
Tourtière is, for me, the dish that best represents Québec. It can be traced back to the 1600s, and there’s no master recipe; every family has their own twist. Originally, it was made with game birds or game meat, like rabbit, pheasant, or moose; that’s one of the reasons why I prefer it with venison instead of beef or pork. Variation: If you prefer to make single servings, follow our lead at the restaurant, where we make individual tourtières in the form of a dome (pithivier) and fill them with 5 ounces (160 g) of the ground venison mixture. Variation: You can also use a food processor to make the dough. Place the flour, salt, and butter in the food processor and pulse about ten times, until the butter is incorporated—don’t overmix. It should look like wet sand, and a few little pieces of butter here and there is okay. With the motor running, through the feed tube, slowly add ice water until the dough forms a ball—again don’t overmix. Wrap, chill, and roll out as directed above.
My love of artichokes continues with this classic recipe, one of the best ways to eat this interesting, underrated, and strange vegetable. Frozen artichoke hearts are a time-saving substitute, though the flavour and texture of fresh artichokes are, by far, much superior and definitely preferred.
Cervelle de canut is basically the Boursin of France, an herbed fresh farmer’s cheese spread that’s a speciality of Lyon. The name is kind of weird, as it literally means “silk worker’s brain,” named after nineteenth-century Lyonnaise silk workers, who were called canuts. Sadly, the name reflects the low opinion of the people towards these workers. Happily for us, though, it’s delicious—creamy, fragrant, and fresh at the same time. Cervelle de canut is one of my family’s favourite dishes. It’s a great make-ahead appetizer that you can pop out of the fridge once your guests arrive. Use a full-fat cream cheese for the dish, or it will be too runny and less delicious.