The Sweet Potato & Apple Gratin to end your fall side dish searches

If you're looking for a side dish that screams fall without you having to loosen the notch on your proverbial belt several times, look no further! Alright, there are healthier fall-inspired dishes than this sweet potato and apple gratin, but compared to the sweet potato casseroles topped with marshmallow and all of those darn pies, this really is pretty saintly. And if you're wondering what this mystery dish looks like, I apologize for the lack of eye candy - you can see a picture of it, though not at its most photogenic, right on over here.

I did doctor up the original recipe just a little bit to make it the teensiest bit healthier and, even more realistically, to suit the ingredients I mostly had on hand. Especially now that I'm stocking a kitchen just for myself, I'm not going to run out and buy an ingredient unless I'll use it more than just once (unless, of course, that one recipe calls for the whole thing). The gratin turned out really well, and I'm even considering making it a second time already - something that almost never happens in the Floptimism kitchen, considering the mountains of clipped recipes I have taking up residence in any spare corner I can find.

It's not an overly sweet casserole, despite the combination of apple + syrup, though I don't know that I'd pair it with a main dish smothered in any kind of saccharine glaze. As it was, paired with the savory mustard chicken and vaguely bitter kale, I found it to be perfect - but we all know by now how consistently obsessed I am with contrasting flavors/textures/you-name-it. The sweet potato and apple gratin on its own doesn't really offer this, though perhaps a little bit on the texture front with the soft apples and crunchier breading as a topping, so it's good to put it up against something on the more savory side of things.

Or, you know, eat it with whatever you please. Since when did I become the expert on food pairings?

Sweet Potato and Apple Gratin, courtesy of Cooking Light
Yield: 8 servings (I cut everything by 4 to give me just 2 servings)
The Ingredients
3C thinly sliced, peeled granny smith apple, approx. 1.25lb
1 tsp. lemon juice
4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced, approx. 2lb.
1/4C maple syrup (I used the cinnamon-infused bottle that I had on hand)
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt (c'mon, omitted)
1/4 tsp. black pepper (I don't measure this, since I almost exclusively use that McCormick 'fresh ground' container)
cooking spray (I only keep butter and olive oil in stock for greasing purposes, so I just used a little bit of oil and a paper towel to spread it around)
2 (1-oz) slices white bread (I used whole grain and don't see any reason why not - it turned out perfectly well)
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4tsp. ground nutmeg

The Method
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and coat a 9x13 dish with spray or oil (I used an 8x8 since I was making such a small batch).
2. Combine the apples and lemon juice in a bowl and toss to coat. Add in the next 5 ingredients (sweet potatoes through the pepper).
3. Place the mixture into the dish and bake for 25 minutes. Stir, then place back in the oven for another 15 minutes (40 minutes total).
4. While the casserole is baking, pulse the bread in a food processor approximately 10 times so that it measures around 1C.
5. Add the bread crumbs with the oil and nutmeg in a bowl and stir to mix well. Sprinkle over the casserole and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until golden. Let stand 10 minutes to allow the juices to thicken (but let's face it - I probably only waited a grand total of 5).

The original website posted the nutrition information as well, so you can check that out if you're interested with the understanding that it can vary a great deal: the type and brand of bread, whether or not you use salt, pure maple syrup vs. aunt jemima's, they all impact it. And regardless of the calories that the website says, this is worth trying. Along with all of the other fall recipes my kitchen has been brimming with - so don't forget to keep coming back. If I don't overwhelm you with delicious recipe finds for this upcoming season, I will be impressed.

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