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Low Calorie Italian Gratin with Fennel, Leek, Zucchini + Potato

September 23, 2011 by Joan Nova in Italian, Low Calorie, Vegetables | 18 Comments

Although you won’t find any butter, cream or high-fat cheese in this dish, the flavor was not sacrificed. I made what I think are wise choices…there’s only one potato (the rest is vegetables) and the Italian cheeses are low(er ) in fat and were used sparingly so I feel justified in calling this a “low-calorie gratin”.

Gratin (pronounced: [gʁa.tɛ̃]) is a widespread culinary technique in food preparation in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter. Gratin originated in French cuisine and is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked or cooked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust on top and is traditionally served in its baking dish. (Source: Wikipedia)

Low Calorie Italian Gratin with Fennel, Leek, Zucchini + Potato
  • ½ bulb of fennel sliced thin
  • 1 red potato sliced thin
  • 1 zucchini sliced in thin rounds
  • ½ large leek sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • olive oil
  • dry seasonings (FOODalogue blend: coarse salt mixed with ground chili flakes, fennel seed, oregano, star anise)
  • panko breadcrumbs toasted with crushed almonds
  • ⅔ cup part-skim ricotta
  • 2 tbs parmesan cheese
How To
  1. Saute vegetables with dry seasonings in a little olive oil.
  2. Drizzle a little olive oil in cassarole pan and sprinkle crumbs.
  3. Layer half of vegetables.
  4. Cover with ricotta which has been lightly sprinkled with dry seasonings.
  5. Add second layer of vegetables.
  6. Cover lightly with breadcrumbs and parmesan.
  7. Bake at 375 about 20-30 minutes.
  8. Finish under broiler.
Serves 2 healthy portions or 3-4 smaller ones. Like all FOODalogue recipes, quantities are approximate and just suggested ratios to be adjusted to your tastes and appetite.

I served this with salmon which had been topped with pesto and it was a heavenly combination!

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. bellini says:

    Fennel is something I have only learned to love ian the last year or so. This is a wicked combination Joan! What’s not to love!!

  2. Foodiewife says:

    Look at you, using potatoes! Yep, this looks flavorful. I love a gratin, and using panko is my #1 favorite choice of topping. I’d have seconds, without the guilt. No problemo.
    Foodiewife recently posted..Fig-Prosciutto Pizza (The Pioneer Woman)My Profile

  3. mmmmm this is making my mouth water like crazy. Love the fennel – and I bet that goes perfectly with fish.

  4. Sounds divine Joan. I can feel fall in the air with this dish. Although not banned from my kitchen, butter and cream have taken a back seat for a while and our waistlines have been grateful. I love that you’ve used a leek, an underused ingredient in our cuisine here.
    My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..Sweet Bell Peppers with Vinegar and OreganoMy Profile

  5. A lot of people are not familiar with fennel which is a pity because it is such a flavorful vegetable. Also leek used quite a lot in French cooking is often on our table. This combination sounds wonderful and pairs well with fish or chicken, pork. Will have to try it.
    Patricia Durr recently posted..Marky’s – International Food EmporiumMy Profile

  6. Sippitysup says:

    Of course I am guilty of never feeling guilty about food. But I love it even more when things are made sensible with out taste sacrifices. Who wouldn’t? GREG

  7. You are making me hungry for this kind of food plus the salmon. I like some lower calorie choices that look sensational.

  8. Wise choices, great taste – irresistable!

  9. norma says:

    I would put fennel in everything. This is a great combination and you are right you did not skimp on flavors. The salmon looks really good topped with that fabuloso pesto.
    norma recently posted..Piñón – Puerto Rican LasagnaMy Profile

  10. I love all the ingredients (strange?) and since my system rejects all sorts of creams, you can invite me for dinner!!
    Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris recently posted..Oh Beautiful ! (Part II) Yes, I was in Napa Valley……Quince in Red Wine, Panna Cotta and Cornmeal (Polenta) BiscottiMy Profile

  11. Manu says:

    Yum!!! I too often make gratins with no cream/butter! Just breadcrumbs and Parmigiano and a little extra virgin olive oil. When you have such gorgeous fresh veggies, you don;t really need much else, do you! :-)))) Great job!

  12. giz says:

    This will be a perfect side for Thanksgivng.

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