This irresistibly creamy vegetable au gratin, loaded with veggies can be a great side dish and doubles up as a fantastic main course as well! We'll show you how to make the classic bechamel sauce, cook the veggies just right and put together a dish everyone will love.
Guys. Just take a look at the first 10 seconds of the video below and come back up here. Can you resist a serving of that creamy au gratin? Think you can stop at just one serving? I'm thinking NO!
At the cost of sounding cheesy, I'll admit we love all things creamy and dreamy. Have you checked out our Creamy Chicken Meatballs in Mushroom Sauce OR our recent addition to the blog - Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes?
This veggie loaded au gratin is buttery and rich from the Bechamel sauce - A classic French dish! And the dish is so creamy without actually needing a lot of cheese! A common misconception is that au gratin means 'grated cheese'. Nope! It actually refers to the breadcrumbs which give the dish it's signature golden brown roast on top! The prep for this dish is really simple so let's dive straight into it!
How To Prep Veggies For au Gratin
We've used fresh beans, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, and peas. The veggies should all be chopped into approximately the same size so that they cook evenly. You can chop the veggies by hand or use a veggie cutter. The cooking time for each veggie is different and is detailed in the recipe card below. In one big pot of boiling water, we cooked the potatoes, carrots, cauliflower florets, beans, and peas, in that order. They cook evenly and are just right.
Bechamel Sauce - Buttery and Rich
To get the bechamel sauce right, you need to get the mixture of flour, butter and milk exactly right. So make sure you refer to the recipe card and measure these ingredients out. It's important to cook the flour for a minute or two in butter so that the flour is not raw anymore. Do a sniff test of the roux (flour and butter) - the flour should smell slightly nutty as it cooks. The only pressure point with a bechamel sauce is to keep it lump-free which can sometimes be difficult to achieve. The idea is to incorporate milk in a steady stream as you whisk it with the flour. Do this in batches so that milk gets fully incorporated before you add the next batch. This will ensure you have a lump-free, smooth sauce. We love classic French flavours so some garlic, minced onions, rosemary and nutmeg also go in the sauce.
How to Get That Golden Brown Top
The au gratin is a play of textures - the veggies and bechamel sauce are creamy and smooth while the top layer is cheesy and crunchy. To get that golden brown top, there are two steps:
- The cheese layer: Like I said before, this is a complete indulgence of a dish. And that's why there's a layer of cheese that goes on top of veggies in bechamel sauce. We've made this layer with grated processed cheese and parmesan shavings. Parmesan adds umami to the dish. And processed cheese - well that's just how we grew up eating au gratin, so we had to add some!
- The layer of bread crumbs: We've used panko bread crumbs which are usually meant for deep-fries. But they get super crisp and take on a beautiful colour when baked. If you don't have panko bread crumbs, you can use toasted fine breadcrumbs as well. Generously sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the cheese to get that golden baked layer on top of the au gratin!
Top Tips to Make The Best Vegetable Au Gratin
- The Veggies: Since each veggie has different cooking times, the idea is to add the ones that take longest to cook first, and subsequently the rest. Potatoes take the longest to cook, so they go in first. And peas don't need much time, so they go in last.
- Roux For Bechamel Sauce: The flour, butter and milk have to be added in the precise proportions given. If there's too much flour, the roux will become extremely too thick and lumpy. If there's too much milk, it’ll be too runny.
- The Bechamel Sauce Ratio: The basic ratio of flour to butter to milk for the classic bechamel sauce is 1:1:10, depending on the quantity you are making. We've used one-third cup:one-third cup: 3 cup ratio. The milk should be added in a steady stream to the flour and butter roux so that it doesn't get lumpy. Use a whisk for this!
- Baking Au Gratin: Make sure to preheat your oven before putting the au gratin in. 20 minutes in the oven will do, so the sauce thickens slightly and the cheese gets nice and bubbly.
We stuffed our faces with this cheesy baked vegetables dish during our trials. And at the end of the day, we put it back in the oven for dinner. And that's when we realised this dish makes for such great leftovers!
Serve Vegetable Au Gratin as a side dish on your table along with meats and roasts, or as a main course in itself! Here are some of my favourite pairings:
More Creamy Dishes You Must Try:
- Jalapeno Mac and Cheese
- Pasta In Bechamel Sauce
- Chicken Florentine Pasta
- Cauliflower Rice Broccoli Casserole
Watch How to make Vegetable Au Gratin Recipe Video
Creamy Baked Vegetable Au Gratin
- ⅓ Cup Butter
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 1 small Onion finely chopped
- ⅓ Cup Flour
- 3 Cups whole Milk
- ¼ Teaspoon Rosemary
- 2 Teaspoons Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Pepper
- ¼ Cup Cream
- 2 Potatoes diced into ½ inch pieces
- ½ Cup Cauliflower florets
- 3 Carrots diced into ¼ inch pieces
- ½ Cup Beans diced into ¼ inch pieces
- ¼ Cup Green Peas
- ¼ Cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- ½ Cup grated Processed Cheese or Mozzarella
- 2 Teaspoons Panko Bread Crumbs
- Add potatoes to 2 ½ cups of boiling water and boil for 3 minutes in a medium sized pot. To the same pot add carrots and cook for 3 more minutes. Next add cauliflower and beans and boil for another 3 minutes. Finally, add the green peas, cook for a minutes and drain all the vegetables. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the flour and whisk into the butter. Cook for 2 minutes till the flour is cooked and smells slightly nutty.
- Reduce the flame and start adding milk in a steady stream while whisking continuously. Add milk in parts and keep whisking it into flour till it thickens, adding more milk as you go. This prevents the sauce from getting lumpy. Add rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until the sauce thickens enough coats the back of a spoon, about 3-4 minutes. Add cream and mix. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Add the vegetables to the sauce and mix well. Pour this into 11 x 7 x 1.5 inch baking dish and use a spoon to lightly level it. Evenly sprinkle parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and panko bread crumbs on top of the vegetables.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes or until the top is golden. Remove from the oven and serve hot with some bread!
- Milk: Use whole milk for best results
- Chicken: Cooked shredded chicken can be added along with the veggies to the sauce if you want to make a Chicken Bake or Chicken Au Gratin
- Other vegetables: Other vegetables like broccoli, mushroom and zucchini can also be added to this au gratin. For broccoli, boil it with the peas. For mushrooms and zucchini, saute them in a little butter till cooked and then add them to the sauce.
- Sauce: The sauce may seem a bit thin, but just follow the ingredients exactly, and once its baked, it'll have the perfect consistency
- Cheese: Add cheese in the order listed above to prevent the parmesan from cooking too fast