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Monday, June 20, 2011

Veg Au Gratin - Baked Vegetables in White Sauce

This is the tastiest veg au gratin ever. A wonderful medley of fresh, crisp vegetables in a rich white sauce, with a delicious layer of browned cheese. My favorite version of this dish is the one I used to eat at a restaurant in Pune. It has always tasted the same, ever since the first day I ate it, some 15 years ago. They serve the same size portion,  accompanied by a piece of garlic toast. It is absolutely the yummiest version of this dish. I was remembering and craving a taste of this dish for the longest time. So, I finally decided to experiment and try it out. It did turn out quite close to the original, so this will do for now.

Note: For variation, instead of adding a layer of cheese and baking it, add some hot sauce and eat the vegetables cooked in white sauce.
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour/maida
2 cups milk (use whole milk, definitely not skimmed milk)
salt to taste
white pepper to taste (can use black pepper if white pepper is not available)
1/4 cup onions, diced into small pieces
1/4 cup peas
1/4 cup potato, diced into small pieces
1/4 cup carrots, diced into small pieces
1 cup shredded cheese
1 tbsp oil

Cook the peas, potatoes and carrots partially. You can do this by cooking them in the  microwave for a couple of minutes. You can also cook them by either adding them to boiling water for a few minutes or steam cooking them for a few minutes. Heat oil in a pan and add the onions. Sautee the onions till they are transluscent. Then add all the vegetables and saute for a couple of minutes. Add salt to taste, turn off the heat and keep aside.

In another deep pan, add the butter and once it melts, add the flour. Cook the flour in the butter till it starts to look slightly pink. Generally at this stage, the raw flour smell disappears. Do not over cook the flour and do not let it turn brown. Then, turn the heat low and add the milk while stirring the mixture with a whisk. It is critical at this stage to keep mixing the milk and flour together so that no lumps are formed. Once the flour is dissolved in the milk, stir it often till it starts to thicken. Add salt and white pepper. As soon as it become thick and gets a sauce like consistency, turn off the heat and add half a cup of grated cheese. Mix thoroughly till the cheese is well incorporated. Add the sauteed vegetables and mix into the sauce. (At this stage all the components are cooked and you can eat the vegetables without baking it further, if you choose.)

Next, pour this mixture into an oven safe dish and layer the remaining cheese on top in an even layer. Bake this for 10-15 minutes at 350F or till the the chee.se has melted and starts to brown slightly.
Serve hot with some garlic bread.

All the vegetables should be cut to similar size about the size of the peas. If white pepper is available use it. It adds flavor to the white sauce and the specks of pepper cannot be seen in the sauce. If not possible, then add black pepper. If you are using frozen peas, rinse them with water and thaw them out. These will be soft enough and do not need to be cooked again prior to sauteeing. You may want to boil the potato first and then dice it.  You can also use the broil setting on your oven to melt and brown the cheese faster. Make sure you are using a pan that is broiler safe.

If you feel adventurous enough, try adding a few diced pieces of pineapples (canned) along with the rest of the vegetables. The original dish has a few  pineapples pieces in it. However, upon my family's preference,I didn't add it.


  1. hey!

    i tried this recipe yesterday and it came out really really great!!
    thanks a ton for an easy and beautiful looking, and most importantly, healthy dish. and the rest if your recipes look awesome as well, will try them out one by one:) thanks again!

  2. Hi SPV,

    Thank you so much for the feedback. I am glad you enjoyed this recipe. As always your comments are much appreciated, so do let me know how the other recipes turn out.

  3. I tried this recipe yesterday and it came out really great!! Are you talking about Darshan restaurant in pune ?

    1. So glad you liked it. Yes, that is the one I am referring to. It is one of my favorite restaurants!

  4. My Au Gratin turns bitter. Is it because i added few fresh pineapple pieces to it?

    1. The acid from the fresh pineapple can impact the food. So it is better to use canned pineapple pieces when using pineapple.