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Green Chefs: The Culinary Creatives Changing How We Eat is a series of eBooks from Natural Vitality Publishing that dives into green cooking as it discusses six visionary chefs known for embracing local foods and creating award-winning recipes.

In Volume One of the three-volume series, readers are introduced to six innovative chefs who explain what motivates them and why they believe in “farm to table” cooking. Readers can try provided recipes, such as Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Warm Prune Port Compote or Empenadas de Viento.

Chefs include Jamie Oliver, a TV choice award-winner for his series, “Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals” and Nora Pouillon, the chef who opened the nation’s first organic restaurant. All the featured chefs have advocated for local agriculture and local food use throughout their careers. The recipes and interviews are accompanied by many color photographs.

The free Green Chefs eBook, and more, can be attained by subscribing through Natural Vitality. Natural Vitality promotes the creation of a sustainable environment and locally based food systems.

The following Butternut Squash and Celery Root Gratin recipe is by featured chef, Alice Waters.

Butternut Squash and Celery Root Gratin

6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 medium celery root
  • 3 marjoram or sage sprigs
  • Salt
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup cream
  • Salt to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Trim the ends from and peel (a vegetable peeler works well): 1 medium butternut squash, 1 medium celery root. Cut both in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds from squash. Compost the peels and seeds.
  2. Using a sharp knife or mandolin slicer, cut both the squash and celery root crosswise into thin slices. (A mandolin makes this job much easier, but it is certainly not essential.) Strip the leaves from: 3 marjoram or sage sprigs. Chop coarsely; you should have about 2 teaspoons.
  3. In a gratin dish or a low-sided baking dish, lay out a single layer of squash, packing slices tightly and leaving as a little exposed as possible. Sprinkle the layer with one quarter of the herbs and salt.
  4. In the same way, lay out celery root in a single layer on top of the squash and sprinkle with salt and herbs. Continue until you have 3 layers of squash and 2 of celery root. The top layer gets salt only.
  5. Mix together in a small heavy-bottomed pot: half-and-half and cream. Salt to taste. Add a pinch of cayenne.
  6. Heat until warm. Pour over vegetables; the level of the liquid should just reach the top layer of the vegetables. Press down on vegetables; they should be fully submerged when pressed.
  7. Place in the middle of the oven to bake. After the gratin has been cooking for 35 minutes, take a spatula and press the top layer of squash under the cream. This keeps the top layer from drying out.
  8. Bake until liquid is absorbed, the top layer browned, and vegetables are tender (test by probing them with the point of a pairing knife), about 1 hour of cooking in all. If the gratin begins to brown too much before it is cooked through, loosely cover the top with a piece of foil.

Variations:

  • Substitute sautéed leeks for the celery root.
  • Make the gratin with other kinds of squash such as Seminole, Amish Neck pumpkin, or Musquée de Provence.
  • Use stock in place of cream, adding a drizzle of olive oil on every layer.
  • Lightly sprinkle grated cheese, such as Parmesan or Gruyere, on each layer.
Contributor: 

Pamela Bump

Pamela is a recipient of Boston University’s Master of Science in Media Ventures. In addition to developing online content and managing social media for Taste for Life, she’s served as Health Editor/Copy Editor for the Keene Sentinel newspaper, Social Media/Member Engagement Coordinator for Boston Women in Media & Entertainment, and Editorial Assistant for MedTechBoston.com.