Food Daily Dish

Easy dinner recipes: Comforting gratins and bread pudding ideas

If you're looking for a comforting dish to keep you warm on a chilly night, you can't go wrong with a great gratin or savory bread pudding. (Hint: These are also great ideas if you're thinking of Thanksgiving dishes!)

Celery root gratin: If you want the richness of potato but are looking to keep your carb count down, celery root is a great alternative. Here, sliced celery root is layered in a creamy gratin flavored with hints of Dijon mustard and rich Gruyere cheese. The whole thing comes together in just over an hour. You can also assemble it ahead of time up to adding the cheese, then refrigerate it up to a day or so before baking (keep in mind the baking time will be a little longer as the gratin has been refrigerated).

Mushroom and spinach gratin: Looking at the finished product, you might never guess this gratin has only six ingredients. Browned butter-sauteed mushrooms are combined with wilted spinach and reduced heavy cream in a wonderfully rich dish from Guy Savoy that comes together in only 40 minutes.

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

Chanterelle-sage bread pudding: This hearty dish, a savory take on bread pudding, is studded with chanterelle mushrooms. Gruyere and Emmentaler cheeses add richness, with fresh thyme and sage to round out the harmony.

You can find the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

MORE RECIPES: 99 more easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

CELERY ROOT GRATIN

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Servings: 8 to 10

Note: From Regina Schrambling

1 cup turkey stock or chicken broth

2 cups heavy cream

2 large celery roots (about 1 1/2 pounds each)

1 tablespoon coarse-grain Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

Freshly ground white pepper to taste

1 cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese

1. In a large pot, bring the stock or broth and cream to a gentle simmer over medium heat. With a sharp chef's knife, trim the ends off the celery root and remove the peel, carving with the shape of the bulb to retain the curve. Cut each bulb lengthwise into quarters. Add to the pot, cover and cook, turning occasionally, until the pieces are just tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the pot from the heat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the celery roots to a cutting board (reserving the liquid in the pot) and let the pieces sit until cool enough to handle. Cut them into one-fourth-inch-thick slices.

3. Layer the slices in a 10-inch gratin or other baking dish, overlapping them slightly. Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil so that it thickens a bit, then whisk in the mustards, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture evenly over the celery root, covering it completely. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the liquid is bubbly and the cheese is melted. Serve hot.

Each of 10 servings: 265 calories; 7 grams protein; 13 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 22 grams fat; 13 grams saturated fat; 77 mg. cholesterol; 483 mg. sodium.

SPINACH AND MUSHROOM GRATIN

Servings: 4

Total time: 40 minutes

Note: Adapted from "Guy Savoy: Simple French Recipes for the Home Cook"

1 pound white mushrooms

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the dish

Salt

1 pound spinach (about 2 bunches), stemmed, washed and drained

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Clean the mushrooms and cut them into one-eighth-inch slices. In a medium skillet, heat the butter over high heat just until melted, then add the mushrooms and saute them until golden, about 10 minutes. Drain any liquid from the mushrooms and set them aside.

2. Place 2 quarts of water in a medium stock pot with one-half teaspoon salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then stir in the spinach and blanch for just a few seconds, until wilted and bright green in color. Remove the spinach using a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water until cool. Drain the spinach well, squeezing out any excess water.

3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Reduce the cream to one-half cup in a small saucepan over low heat. Strain the cream into a small bowl and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper.

4. Butter a small (2-quart) baking dish, and spread the spinach in the bottom in an even layer. Sprinkle the top of the spinach with one-eighth teaspoon salt. Arrange the mushroom slices over the spinach in a fish-scale pattern. Spoon the cream evenly over the top and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until heated through. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 337 calories; 7 grams protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 32 grams fat; 20 grams saturated fat; 113 mg. cholesterol; 170 mg. sodium.

CHANTERELLE-SAGE BREAD PUDDING

Total time: 1 hour

Servings: 6 to 8

Note: From Amy Scattergood. Use a 1-pound loaf of any high-quality country-white bread.

3 cups whole milk

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus 1/8 cup small whole sage leaves, divided

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/4 pounds chanterelle

mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

5 eggs

8 cups stale country white bread, crust on, cut or torn into about 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 cup grated Emmentaler cheese

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, garlic, sage, thyme and black pepper. Heat over high heat until just before the milk reaches a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and salt and saute, stirring often, until the mushrooms are soft and fragrant and beginning to caramelize, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the cooled milk. Add the bread pieces, cheeses and sauteed mushrooms and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, pressing down on the bread to make sure it is submerged. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes while the bread absorbs the liquid.

4. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown, rotating once for even cooking. Serve immediately.

Each of eight servings: 374 calories; 20 grams protein; 26 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 22 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 176 mg. cholesterol; 533 mg. sodium. 

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