Saturday, January 26, 2008

Swiss-Style Cheese Bake

I was going to make this on Thursday, but - yet again - my potatoes from Trader Joe's had gone bad. We resolved never to buy potatoes from TJs anymore. And then we went to Red Robin for dinner.

Last night we went out for Thai food and it was lovely.

Tonight I had some fresh potatoes from today's grocery shopping adventure, so I was finally able to make this recipe.

It is outstanding. It's comfort food at its finest. We used Yukon gold potatoes, broccoli, and cheddar cheese, but it's extremely versatile. Use whatever vegetables and whatever cheeses you want. I used frozen broccoli, but you could use fresh or leftover or whatever. It's wonderful.

In case you're wondering why you toss the cheese in cornstarch, it helps prevent the cheese from becoming a solid sheet of melted cheese (which is appreciated and loved at times, but not for this meal) and allows it to remain gooey. Oh and I highly recommend using the walnuts, because they add a really nice touch. This is a definite make-again.


Swiss-Style Cheese Bake
From Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, via CLBB

When you don’t have time for full-on fondue or want something to pop into the oven after a day outside in the cold, this dish – essentially melted cheese with potatoes and vegetable – is perfect. Like fondue, it hails from the Alps.

Try layering the ingredients into small individual crocks if you have them – the kind you use for onion soup. And consider that you can use any kind of cooked vegetables for layering here, which makes it a great use for leftovers.

Butter or extra virgin olive oil for greasing the baking dish(es)
2 cups grated Fontina, Emmenthal, Gruyere, Chantal, Cheddar or Jack cheese
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 cups cooked potato cubes (boiled or roasted, peeled or not)
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cups roughly chopped cooked asparagus, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts
¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

1. If you’re baking immediately, preheat the oven to 375. Grease and 8 inch square baking pan with a little butter or olive oil. Toss the grated cheese with the cornstarch until it is coated evenly.

2. Spread the potatoes evenly in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and half the cheese mixture. Top with the vegetable, a little more salt and pepper, and the remaining cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the walnuts if you like and the Parmesan. Cover tightly with foil. (The dish may be assembled up to this point and refrigerated for up to a day. Bring to room temperature and preheat the oven before proceeding.)

3. Put the pan in the oven and bake, covered, until the cheese melts and the vegetables are hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the cheese is golden and bubbly, another ten minutes or so. Sprinkle with parsley if you’re using it and let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Yield: 4-6 servings

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