Sometimes you have to improvise...

This week was one of those weeks we open up our Farm Share box and think, "hmm...now what are we going to do with this?"  Farmer Dave, in our weekly newsletter, informed us that we would be receiving an "emergency box" this week with minimal produce from outside the state of MA.  Really, the box wasn't too different from other weeks where we receive a variety of produce items we've never cooked with before.  This week, we just had less of a wide variety of produce to work with.

After we pulled out our salad mix, an eggplant, parsnips, beets, and some apple and grapefruit, we got to the bottom of the box and saw this:

The first thing that popped into my mind was how much these root vegetables looked like creatures from Harry Potter...the "Mandrake" root the Hogwarts students had to repot.

The second thing that popped into my mind was the question I mentioned before..."hmm, now what are we going to do with this?"

Fortunately, Farmer Dave sends us a list of produce we might receive, so I guessed correctly that it was celery root and didn't have to search too far and wide for what these things actually were.  I went to Epicurious.com, found a recipe for root vegetable gratin, had an idea of what to do with them, and went to work.

I took the parsnips, celery root, and potatoes and made the root vegetable gratin.  When it comes to cooking, I try to go for things that are quick and easy yet flavorful.  We didn't have any heavy cream as the recipe called for (and in an effort to cook healthier, I wouldn't have wanted to use it anyway) so in its stead I whipped some milk and ricotta together.  I sliced all the veggies with our mandoline, piled them up in a baking dish with thyme, rosemary, and nutmeg sprinkled between, then dumped the ricotta/milk mixture along with some vegetable broth on top of the vegetables and baked at 350 for about 45 minutes.  The result was really good--and surprisingly my husband really liked it.  What was great is the flavor of the vegetables weren't lost, and the tanginess of the parsnips was a nice compliment to the heartiness of the other vegetables.

Here are some pictures from the process of putting the gratin together...

The celery root before peeling and slicing.  I should have taken a picture of the celery root once sliced.  The texture is so different than what I expected.  Once peeled, the inside is surprisingly spongy and has the strongest aroma of, what I should have guessed, celery!

Peeled parsnips.

The gratin, baked.

Our meal that night, the gratin rounded off with kale and kielbasa.

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