That comforting, creamy, layered, savoury first bite...the one you used to have on a weekend at a bring and braai with friends. The sigh of relief when you got to the bowl in time to dish up a piece with the top cheese crust still in tact... All the flashbacks of that one person in your family who transformed a few humble potatoes into a memorable dish all throughout the eighties and nineties and all the shortcuts you attempted in making your own with the help of Miss Maggi or Mrs Royco... (that never quite turned out looking like the serving suggestion) All these memories you bravely packed away the day you started your low carb journey.
Well dearly beloved, I'm standing before you today to tie into decadent matrimony, Low Carb and Au Gratin. You may kiss the kohlrabi! Wait WHAT?! Did you just say... KOHLRABI?
This above ground veggie (Yes REALLY) has slowly made it's way into our fresh produce aisles. Family of the humble cabbage, it tastes a bit like broccoli smashed into an apple. It is fresh, sweet, and crunchy but the best news is it also comes with a string of health benefits and a very low nett carb count. (2.4 g /100g)
If you can find them, you can use them raw in salads, spirallized as a divine pasta or slice them and make the family sing an ode to Au Gratin around the table.
But alas, if they are nowhere to be found, simply turn your gaze a bit below the surface to the trusty turnip (between 4 - 6 gram carbs per 100g), which I used in 2 of the 3 variations.
There are 4 basic elements to each of these options:
- The Cream Sauce
- The Potato Substitute of choice (Kohlrabi or Turnip)
- The Flavour profile team players (Spices & Herbs)
- The Meal makers (Added meat or veggies to turn your Gratin into a meal on it's own.)
THE CREAM SAUCE: (4 - 6 servings)
1 - 1 1/2 cup cream
1 - 1 1/2 cup grated cheese of choice
1/2 tsp garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a bowl, whisk al the ingredients together
THE POTATO SUB:
With a veggie peeler, peel the tough outer skin of the kohlrabi. Turnips are easier to peel. Allow 1 - 2 medium turnips or kohlrabi per serving.
KOHLRABI BACON & THYME BAKE
Preheat oven to 190*C
Thinly slice 1 kohlrabi and layer with cooked bacon pieces and fresh thyme. Add enough cream sauce to cover two thirds of the way.
(The cheese will end up as the top layer)
OR... for a deeper dish or muffin cup start with a Tbsp or two of cream sauce, followed by a slice of kohlrabi, a layer of bacon and some thyme. Repeat layers.
Bake until golden and set. Do a knife test to make sure the kohlrabi layers are soft throughout. (Time will depend on the size of the dish. Also kohlrabi tends to cook a bit longer. Reduce cooking time by gently steaming the kohlrabi rounds before layering)
Below you can see the same dish baked in a ramekin.
SPINACH & TURNIP BAKE
Preheat oven to 190*C
Thinly slice 1 turnip and in a large muffin silicone cup, start with a Tbsp or two of cream sauce, followed by a slice of turnip, and a layer of spinach. Repeat layers. Bake until golden and do a knife test to make sure the turnip layers are soft throughout. (Time will depend on the size of the dish.)
SMOKEY BRAAI BAKE ADD:
1 TBSP SUGAR FREE BBQ SPICE
(Or any sugar free spice grind for chops and steak - I make my own with paprika, coriander, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, chill,xylitol and mixed herbs)
1/2 red onion sautéed
1/2 cup sliced droewors or biltong
Preheat oven to 190*C
Peel and halve 5 turnips and thinly slice each halve.
Arrange halves into a oven proof dish and sprinkle with BBQ spices.
Add the onion and meat of choice. Add enough cream sauce to cover two thirds of the way. (The cheese will end up as the top layer) Bake until golden and set. Do a knife test to make sure the layers are soft throughout. (Time will depend on the size of the dish.The one below baked for 35 minutes)
This dish goes so well with a little lost lamb chop or steak on the braai/grill.
It is comfort food "decarbed" in the most mindful of manners. Healthy. Filling. Divine!
As you can see the sky is the limit.. You can play with combinations to your hearts content. Sautéed mushrooms, pesto, sundried tomatoes and chicken to name a few others...
Share your pictures and favourite combo's on my Facebook page why don't you.
From my kitchen to yours.