Leek and Broccoli Gratin

March 1, 2012

So, if any of you readers saw the news a few weeks ago, you may have heard that we got just a leeetle bit of snow over here in my neck of the woods.

When Miss D. woke to the news that all county schools were closed, she pumped her fist in the air and hooted, “This is the best week ever!” Ah, the intoxication of a snow day.

We who had to shovel the buckets of white stuff were not quite so intoxicated. Actually, I cannot really complain because hubs and Awesome Stepkid R. did most of the heavy lifting, and also because my neighborhood only got a wee 13 inches of snow, as opposed to Boulder, just minutes away, which got 22.5 inches.

I guess this is why smart people own snow blowers. We ain’t smart.

We’re close to setting a record for February snowfall, and I can’t help but wonder if Mother Nature has more mischief in store for us. She’s a trickster, that one.

All of this wintry weather calls for hearty fare, so I thought that a snow day was a perfect excuse to break out one of those vegetable gratins I’ve been meaning to try. After all, shoveling is good exercise, no? Butter and cream sauce and cheese are just rewards for such labor, don’t you agree?

I couldn’t find quite the perfect recipe in any of my cookbooks, though–even in my new bible, Essential Pepin. Some seemed too heavy, and some didn’t have enough cheese, and some called for herbs that weren’t in my pantry, and no way was I braving the grocery store on a day like that.

So I tinkered. I took some of the best parts of several recipes and cobbled together this gratin. It made a warming and delightful lunch, served with a bit of baguette and a well-earned glass of Chardonnay. I sauteed some sausages for the men in the family, but I was content just to focus on the rich, cheesy gratin. Those French are onto something, let me tell you.*

Leek and Broccoli Gratin

serves 6 as a side dish, 3-4 as a main course

3 large leeks, trimmed, leaving a bit of the green part on

1-2 heads broccoli, cut into flowerets (you should have about 6 cups)

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 cup water or chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (if you use table salt, reduce to 1/4 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 small shallot, chopped

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 1/2 tablespoons flour

2 cups whole milk

2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, divided (about 8 ounces)

3 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs

Prepare the leeks and broccoli: Cut off the stringy tips and most of the green ends, leaving about an inch of the green on. Quarter the leeks lengthwise; cut into one-inch pieces. Fill a sink with cold water and swish the leeks around vigorously, being careful to remove all dirt and sand between the leaves. Drain the sink and rinse the leeks again with cold water. Remove the leeks and pat dry.

Place the leeks, water/broth, and garlic clove in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until water is almost completely evaporated. Add broccoli flowerets to the saucepan, re-cover and steam for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and discard garlic clove.

Prepare the sauce: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, salt, pepper and thyme and stir vigorously with a whisk, cooking for about 2 minutes. Stir in the shallot. Add about 1/2 cup of the milk, whisking to remove any lumps of flour. Add remaining milk and simmer (do not boil), whisking, until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the grated Gruyere.

Assemble the gratin: Preheat oven to 375. Butter a large gratin or shallow baking dish (it should hold 8 cups). Place vegetables in the gratin dish and pour the sauce over, pressing down to make sure all vegetables get some sauce. Sprinkle remaining Gruyere and breadcrumbs over the top.

Place gratin on a baking sheet and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown. Let the gratin sit for 10 minutes before serving.

*And no, to answer your question, my children would not touch this.

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Arnebya March 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I have to admit giggling at the asterisk. I am positively lucky in that my kids will try anything a few times before saying hell no, make it again, you’ll wear it. This looks delicious. Warm and cheesy and comforting. (Whispering: So. Now. Um (cue embarrassment), what is the difference beteween a leek, a spring/green onion, and a shallot? I am so serious). Also, Mother Nature hates me (pretty sure it’s because I’m black) and daffodils and tulips that bloomed in mid-January. Pure hate.


TKW March 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm


No shame allowed on this blog. I’m the one who almost gave a dolphin a hernia.

Leeks are big, dirty, green-onion looking things. Taste like milder onions but you have to cook the shit out of them. Green onions/scallions are midget leeks and more potent in onion-y flavor. Shallots are these lovely things usually stored next to the garlic in the grocery store. They have pink skins and taste like a combination of garlic and onion, but mild.

Mother Nature doesn’t hate you because you are black. But airport security hates my husband because he’s got dark skin. He ALWAYS gets flagged for the advanced scan. One time, Miss D. asked me, “Why do they always stop Daddy at the airport?” And I said, “Because he’s a darkie, baby.” Another airline security agent (who was black) cracked the Hell up and said, “I can’t believe you told her that.”


Arnebya March 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Aha! Thank you for that leek/scallion/shallot tutorial; I appreciate it.

As for the darkies, that’s just what we said when I had the boy: finally! A darkie. The girls are both lighter than me and my husband is considerably darker. The boy is an ever darker growing version of him.


Kristen @ Motherese March 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm

You know I love it when you bust out these vegetarian recipes, especially when they’re laden with cream and cheese. Yum.

Random thought: remember that blog fairy who gave you a juicer (I think)? Maybe you could hit her up for a snow blower next? :)



TKW March 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm


It’s due to snow again tonight, so I need that damn blower.


Biz March 1, 2012 at 1:14 pm

You had me at Gruyere cheese!! I love how melty and nutty that cheese is :D

I loved your vacation recap too! :D


Camille Brightsmith March 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I think my kids will actually eat this! Can’t wait to make it YUM YUM YUM! And its snowing AGAIN now so I am ready for more cold weather cheesy yummy food. THANKS


Jane March 1, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Some of the best recipes are the ones that are “cobbled together.” Can’t wait to try this one. My kids love broccoli (weird, I know) and I love sneaking new veggies into their repetoire. (this time, leeks.) Yeah. I’m all sneaky that way.


Jenna March 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Oh Gruyere . . . those French sure do have cheese figured out. There’s no doubt about it.


Jennifer March 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm

This looks really delicious.

I think leek is a funny word.


pamela March 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Veggies and cheese. YUM. Also loved what you told your kids about airport security. :)


TKW's Dad March 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Yes! Even though the kids love it, this global warming is getting out of hand:-).


SuziCate March 1, 2012 at 7:52 pm

We ain’t smart either as we don’t own a snow blower…fortunately we haven’t had more than a dusting this year!
This recipe sounds phenom; can’t wait to try it! Love both broccoli and gruyere , and leeks as well.


Heather March 1, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Oh broccoli and Gruyere… seriously drooling here. And I think I could get the littles to eat this – double bonus!


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes March 2, 2012 at 5:58 am

I think I’m going to order myself my very own copy of that Pepin, everything looks sooo good.
Since this has cheese in it my kids are sure to eat it. The weird little critters… how I love them.


Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts March 2, 2012 at 9:41 am

Oh, how I love a gratin! And I love the idea of a glass of chardonnay after shoveling snow. Although I might even prefer hot chocolate with Bailey’s, though it wouldn’t go so well with the gratin… Supposed to be crappy here this weekend, so perhaps I’ll have to give this one a try!


Sherri March 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm

We have no snow here in PA, which is weird, but… I’m still going to make this. What excuse can I make for cheesy cream sauce tonight…..??? Hmmm……..


bryan March 3, 2012 at 9:55 am

Sounds great! I know that no one in my house would eat it… Broccoli gets a suspicious look whenever I bring it home, I don’t think there is enough cheese to get it past the little ones. Maybe I will make just one serving for me.


BigLittleWolf March 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm

This looks stupendous (albeit a tad fattening). And I happen to have leeks and broccoli in my fridge at the moment… (I adore leeks.)

Just might give this a shot… Then walk around the block (no snow) – say – a dozen times???


Barbara March 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Awwwww…you fussed! :) It’s a gem of a recipe and well worth a reward for snow removal.
Leeks are my favorite too.
The weather this past week has been frightening…we’ve escaped the worst down here, but no doubt will get our share this August.


TKW March 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I wondered what was going on in your neck of the woods…glad all is okay in your beautiful corner. xo


Paula March 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I’m impressed that you have leeks and Gruyere just hanging out in your fridge.

Funny dialogue btween you and the first commenter. :-)


Lyndsey@TheTinySkillet March 5, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I won’t tell you what the weather is we have here… we had a lot of wind yesterday.

Anyway this dish sounds delish, I like what you came up with. Leeks are a favorite of mine, and who can not like all that cheese.


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