Beetroot, sweet potato & mint gratin – Plant based/vegan & dairy free
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It’s been a little while since I last wrote. I think it was as far back as the beginning of lockdown! The reason? I have lost my social skills and gone 99% feral. I have been spending many happy hours in the garden, planting and growing beautiful (and in some cases fugly!) vegetables. We have all been growing more, apparently the UK has found its love for the spade again – that news makes my heart very happy! I am going to hazard a guess that if you have been growing veg, beetroot was on the list? If not, you have missed a trick so get some in the ground. They are beautiful pulled fresh from the earth! In the meantime if you haven’t grown any, they are plentiful in shops right now so you can buy what you need for this recipe. Or swap it out for celeriac, potato, fennel, etc. If you do have home grown beetroot, reserve the leaves. They are lovely as salad when small and tender. Or as a ‘wilted green’ veg like spinach or chard. Experimenting is key to owning your kitchen! The worst that can happen is a bad meal, the best a family favourite. It’s worth the risk right?

I am going to dive straight in with the recipe as I am reliably informed that the most annoying thing readers find is having to scroll through two pages of story about the dish being cooked. If you want to chat about vegan recipes, growing your own food, or anything else at all then just send me a message or comment below.

Ingredients, serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side dish

Prep time, 15 minutes

Cooking time, approx 35 mins

1 large sweet potato – approx the size of two small fists

2 large beetroot, approx equal amounts to the sweet potato

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 sprigs of fresh mint, sub with dried 2tsp dried mint if fresh not available

1 tablespoon vegan butter/spread

1 heaped dessertspoon flour of choice

1 cup plant based milk

1 cup vegetable stock

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Vegan cheese, optional but tasty

Method

1. Heat oven to 180 degrees. Very lightly drizzle the bottom of an oven proof dish with olive oil.

2. Thinly slice the sweet potato and beetroot into approx 0.5cm rounds and layer in the dish. Sweet potato, then beetroot. Aim for two layers of each so that the colours show through. Sprinkle the torn mint sprigs over the top.

3. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.

4. Add minced garlic and flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring to prevent burning.

5. Add the milk and whisk to prevent lumps. As the mixture thickens, slowly add the stock. You may not need the full amount so don’t add it all at once. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, remove from heat and stir in the nutritional yeast (reserve a little to sprinkle over the top) and season.

6. Pour the sauce over the beetroot and sweet potato mix, sprinkle the top with nutritional yeast and a little salt and pepper. Sprinkle with vegan cheese if using. The photo below shows the dish before cooking, you can see the liquid doesn’t cover the entire gratin. That’s fine as the dish will be covered to steam cook and then the top will be browned.

7. Cover with tin foil/a lid, and bake covered for 20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven. After 20 mins remove the cover and cook on the top shelf of the oven for 10-15 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the root veg and the top is browned. This dish works well with slightly over cooked, gnarly bits as they contrast with the sweetness of the root veg so don’t be afraid to get a bit of colour on the top!

Enjoy with a salad or the beetroot leaves lightly cooked in a little stock/olive oil.

A beautiful, fresh looking dish! Look at those colours!

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