Vegetable au gratin

If you know me you know I can sell my soul for some really good food. Double confirmation if the food is all cheesy :). Au gratin hands down has been one of my favourite favourite dishes ever. I have been making au gratin for a few years now & each time the dish only gets better :). The last few times, I have struck gold with this dish. I have found the absolute perfect ingredients that go well with each other, found out the correct amount of supporting ingredients and have found those secret layers that take the dish to a whole another level. For those of you who know au gratin, I am sure most of you know that the authentic veggie au gratin is a potato based one. Layers of potato soaked in white sauce & topped with cheese. I have never tried it before but I can totally imagine how amazing the taste must be. I decided instead of trying a whole potato gratin, I would just put a top layer of nicely roasted potatoes on top before sprinkling all the cheese and my oh my, the taste it adds to the vegetable gratin is something else. Infact, one of these days I am going to add an in between layer of potato as well to the veggies so that the potato also comes while in the middle of chewing the veggies. Drooooool…. Anywho, a vegetable au gratin can pretty much be made out of any veggie & the potato layer is optional (you don’t necessarily need it). But please trust me and try out the whole dish as is. I swear you will absolutely love it! And stay tuned for a potato au gratin one of these days on the blog. Only thing is I should make a much smaller portion and have it on the side of some dish and not as a main dish. Well who knows, I might just have that as a main dish :D. I am completely capable of it. Anywho, while that is only a dream for me.. the vegetable au gratin is a reality & its absolutely decadent :).

And oh, don’t look at the multiple sections as well as the name (if you haven’t heard it) and think this must be a complicated dish. It absolutely isn’t and anyone who has access to these ingredients can put this dish together pretty quickly. And oh, do check out my notes where I have mentioned swaps & tips/ tricks.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Baking Time
5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Potato layer
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 tbsp butter
Veggies & pasta layer
  • 3/4 cup small macaroni/ elbow pasta
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 no green chillies
  • 2 regular onions
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 3/4 cup boiled sweet corn kernels frozen works fine as well
  • 1/2 cup frozen paneer fresh works fine as well
  • 1.5 tsp dried italian seasoning
White sauce for the veggies & pasta layer
  • 1.5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp corn flour/ starch
  • 6-7 small garlic pods
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
The dish finale
  • 1 cup grated mozarella
  • 1 cup grated mild cheddar
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 tsp bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes optional for garnish
  • a handful fresh basil leaves optional for garnish
Potato layer
  1. Peel the potatoes & slice them into 0.5cm thickness.

  2. Soak in hot water for 3-5 minutes. Remove and pat dry with a kitchen cloth/ tissue.

  3. Heat a heavy bottom flat pan (preferrably cast iron), heat 1/2T butter.

  4. Once hot, place the potatoes (space them out) and cook them on high heat. Do not flip for 2 minutes.

  5. Then flip sides and pan fry till both sides are golden brown. Add the other 1/2T butter once you flip sides.

  6. Take the potatoes out & sprinkle salt. Set it aside.

Veggies & pasta layer
  1. Cook macaroni/ elbow pasta as per package instructions. Once cooked, drain it and run cold water on it till it cools down. Mix with 1/2 tsp olive oil and set it aside.

  2. Prep work for veggies – Chop all the veggies (green chillies, onion, carrot & cauliflower) into small & fine pieces. Grate garlic. Soak frozen peas in water & cottage cheese in hot water (if using frozen cubes). If using fresh cottage cheese, chop into small cubes.

  3. Heat a kadai/ pan with 1t olive oil and throw in the green chillies.

  4. Once the chillies start to change colour, throw in the onion & saute.

  5. Once the onions become translucent, add all the veggies – 1c cauliflower florets, 1/2c frozen peas, 1 carrot. If using frozen corn, add the corn as well at this stage.

  6. Add a little salt & mix everything. Close with a lid and let it cook for 3-5 minutes on low flame.

  7. If the mixture gets too dry and starts to stick to the bottom of the vessel, add 1t water.

  8. Once the veggies are cooked but crunchy (don't over cook the veggies), add 1.5t dried italian seasoning, sweet corn kernels, cottage cheese.

  9. Mix everything, check & adjust for salt. Turn off heat.

  10. Transfer the veggies onto a plate/ bowl.

White sauce for the veggies & macaroni layer
  1. In a kadai/ pan, heat butter. Throw in the grated garlic.

  2. When the raw smell weans off and when the colour just starts to change, add 2T corn flour.

  3. Whisk so that the corn flour mixes with the butter.

  4. Then add in milk while constantly whisking so as to not form any lumps.

  5. Now let the boil milk & thicken.

  6. When it starts to thicken, add 1/2t red chilli flakes & 1/2t black pepper powder and let it continue to thicken.

  7. After 5 minutes on medium flame, the milk/ corn flour would have reached the sauce consistency. Your white sauce is ready at this stage.

Adding veggies & macaroni to the white sauce
  1. Now add in the veggies (not potato), cooked pasta & 2T parmesan cheese.

  2. Mix everything well. Check & adjust for salt and seasoning.

  3. Turn off the flame (If the mixture is still a little runny, let it thicken on low flame. If required, add a little more parmesan cheese).

The dish finale
  1. Now take a wide pan/ dish (oven safe). Add the veggies & pasta covered in white sauce.

  2. Flatten/ even out to ensure you have an even layer of the veggies & pasta.

  3. Top with cooked potato. Again, spread/ even it out to cover the entire dish.

  4. Sprinkle grated mozarella & cheddar cheese.

  5. Sprinkle bread crumbs & parmesan cheese and top with a drizzle (1/2t) of olive oil.

  6. Garnish with a sprinkle of red chilli flakes & a few roughly torn basil leaves.

  7. Bake/ broil for 5 minutes till the cheese melts & gets that rich golden brown colour.

  8. Vegetable au gratin ready to be served. Slice up & serve the cheesy goodness.

Recipe Notes
  1. Get all the veggies chopped (including grating garlic) and then carry on with multiple parts of the dish all at one time – you can have the pasta cooking in the back burner. You can be roasting the potatoes on one of the front burners & get the veggies going on another one. 
  2. I used a cast iron pan for the dish finale. So I could’ve just used the stove top to get the cheese to melt & could have completely avoided the oven. Having said that, the golden brown crusty cheese comes only when you bake/ broil. 
  3. You can go easy on the spices based on your preference. Since its white sauce, we like to spice things up a bit. 
  4. Cheese is a feeling. So add more or less based on your mood & preference :).
  5. The potato layer can be completely avoided if you are short on time or in general lazy. But I would highly recommend this layer. So so good. 
  6. You can replace corn flour with All Purpose flour or even whole wheat flour. 
  7. If your white sauce doesn’t thicken as per the desired levels, add a bit more of parmesan cheese. However, if you use the measurements mentioned above then the sauce will definitely thicken fine. 
  8. The veggies aren’t the definitive above ones. Use what’s in hand. However, cauliflower & cheese, corn & cheese go very well together. So if you have these 2, make sure to add them. 
  9. Also you don’t need pasta at all in this dish. Just veggies is totally fine. However, I somehow like the addition of a little macaroni to this dish. Adds to the bite I feel.
  10. Also, don’t be in a hurry to saute the veggies. Use the medium size or large burner but keep on low flame from the start to the end of cooking veggies so that your veggies look white and not brown (my prev attempt become brown because I browned the onions way more than required cos you see.. impatience. Pearls of wisdom slowly collecting from the prev gen :). 

Stepwise pictures

Potato layer

Veggies & pasta layer

Prep work – Finely chop veggies – green chillies, onion, cauliflower & carrot. Soak frozen peas in some water & cottage cheese in hot water. Also on the side, in a different vessel, cook your pasta as per package instructions. Once pasta cooks, drain, run under cold water & set it aside.

White sauce for the veggie & pasta layer

Adding veggies & pasta to white sauce

The dish finale

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