When people ask if I am a vegetarian, I usually respond with “yes….mostly.” Its just easier to say that I am a vegetarian, but in all reality I’m not. True, I don’t cook with meat hardly ever and I don’t really order it at restaurants. But there are the rare occasions where I do eat meat that make it so I can’t claim full vegetarianism.
One is shrimp. I still eat shrimp and even other seafood, occasionally. Another reason I can’t claim full vegetarianism is because there are some circumstances where I am ok with fudging. Like if someone makes me soup with chicken broth and brings it to me when I’m sick. Do you think I’m going to thick twice about what kind of broth? Nope. Or if we are eating at someone else’s house, I am not going to make them change how they cook just for me. The last thing I want is for someone to go out of their way for me. (If I ever stay at your house, just cook like you normally do and don’t worry about me. Please!)
The last reason I can’t claim full vegetarianism: Thanksgiving. While I don’t eat very much turkey and I haven’t touched the ham for years, I just can’t let go of the tradition of the turkey. I have a really awesome, juicy, flavorful turkey recipe that I love and I just can’t leave it in the dust. You can see it HERE.
However, I am huge fan of having lots of veggie side dishes to go with the turkey. So whether you are fully vegetarian and going sans turkey this year, or loading the table with meat, you can’t go wrong with some good plant strong side dishes. And I have some real winners for you this year! For the whole month of November, I am going to be posting vegetarian Thanksgiving side dish recipes that are full of the flavors of Thanksgiving.
Today’s recipe is a beautiful potato tian. A tian is just a fancy word of thinly sliced veggies stacked together and baked. This tian is a mix of red potatoes and sweet potatoes smothered in a fragrant caramelized leek, shallot, garlic, and sage topping and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. And oh is it good! Its beautiful and colorful and easy, too.
If you are worried about taking up space in your oven with this dish, you could cook it ahead of time until the potatoes are tender and then just pop it back in the oven right before serving until heated through again. And whether or not you make it for Thanksgiving, it’s the perfect chilly November evening recipe.
- 2 TBSP. butter
- 1 large leek, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 C.)
- 1 large shallot, chopped small
- 2 TBSP. fresh sage, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 5-6 red potatoes, thinly sliced and halved
- 5-6 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- oil and salt for tossing
- 1/2 C. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 425. Grease the bottom of a large square baking dish. Clean and chop the leeks, shallots, sage, and garlic. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet. Once the butter is melted and hot, add the leeks, shallots, and sage. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring, then turn heat down to medium. Add the sage, garlic, thyme, and salt and continue to cook until the leaks and shallots are tender, stirring as needed. Remove from heat and set aside for later.
2. Prepare the potatoes by peeling the sweet potatoes and thinly slicing both the reds and sweets. I peel the sweet potatoes and leave the skin on the reds, but you could leave the skin on both or peel both. I chose the most colorful option. Halve the red potato slices. Pack the slices in alternating rows. You will have one row of red potatoes, then one of sweet potatoes repeated until you fill up the pan. Pack them in tight! You may need to cut more potatoes than listed or you may not use all the potatoes. It will really depend on the size of the potatoes and the size of the pan you use. I used a large square ceramic baking dish measuring 10 x 10 . You are going to take them out again in a minute. This step is just to make sure you have the right amount of potatoes.
3. Take the re potato slices out of the pan again and toss them with a drizzle of oil and a generous sprinkling of salt in a large bowl. Pack the slices back into the baking dish. Toss the sweet potatoes in oil and salt in the same bowl and pack them back into the pan. Give everything another generous sprinkle of salt.
4. Take the leek and shallot mixture and spread it out across the tops of the potato rows as evenly as possible. Use your hands to rub it in a little and to flip through the potato slices like a card catalog, tucking little bits and pieces of the leeks and shallots down in between the potato pieces. You don’t need to be too thorough or precise.
6. Bake for 1 hour or until potato slices are soft. Check at about 40 minutes and cover with tin foil if the leeks and shallots are starting to burn. When it is finished cooking, slide out a slice of potato and taste. If its not salty enough and the flavors don’t sing, add another sprinkle of salt over the top of the whole dish. Serve hot.