Great gratin: Fruit from the oven Dessert: Sweet filling and crusty topping combine to make luscious, easy home-baked treats.

March 25, 1998|By Patsy Johnson | Patsy Johnson,Eating Well Magazine

Fruit gratins are luscious combinations of juicy, warm fruit, rich, sweet filling and crusty topping, rather like an all-American fruit crisp married with a sophisticated European brulee. Yet this dish couldn't be easier - a fruit gratin is just fruit covered with a simple topping and baked to crusty perfection shortly before serving.

The rich taste of these gratins belies their inherent goodness. Not only do you get a healthy serving of fruit, but the enrichment comes from ingredients like creamy silken tofu and low-fat gingersnap cookies. So by all means, toss that fruit into a gratin, warm up the oven and save room for dessert.

A classic gratin dish is oval-shaped and shallow, maximizing the surface area exposed to direct heat, which creates the all-important crust. The literal translation of the French gratin is, after all, "burnt part." Attractive, individual gratin dishes that can go straight to the table - porcelain, earthenware or copper - are appealing, but any shallow baking dish can make a great gratin.

Mixed Berry-Almond Gratin

Makes 4 servings

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

1 large egg

1/3 cup silken tofu (if using a shelf-stable box, choose soft), drained

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

3 cups mixed fresh or frozen berries, such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries

confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil four 1- to 1-1/2-cup gratin dishes or a shallow 1-quart baking dish, or coat them with nonstick spray.

Spread almonds in a shallow pan and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool.

In a food processor or blender, finely grind almonds, sugar, flour and salt. Add egg, tofu, butter and almond extract; process until smooth. (The almond mixture will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.)

If using frozen berries, defrost them in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, or until partially thawed. Spread evenly in prepared dish or dishes. Spoon almond mixture over the top.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden. Cool for 15 minutes. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve warm.

Per serving: 270 calories, 6 grams protein, 11 grams fat (2.7 grams saturated fat), 41 grams carbohydrate, 115 milligrams sodium, 61 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams fiber

Bananas Foster Gratin

Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon dark rum or fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons butter

4 medium bananas

1 almond or hazelnut biscotti, crushed (1/4 cup)

1 pint nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt or low-fat vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil four 1- to 1-1/2-cup gratin dishes or a shallow 1-quart baking dish, or coat them with nonstick spray.

In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, water, rum (or lemon juice) and cinnamon; bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in butter. (The sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.)

Peel bananas and slice diagonally. Add to sauce and toss to coat. Spoon into prepared dishor dishes. Sprinkle with biscotti crumbs.

Bake gratins for about 10 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve hot or warm with a scoop of frozen yogurt (or ice cream).

Per serving: 305 calories, 7 grams protein, 4 grams fat (1.7 grams saturated fat), 63 grams carbohydrate, 120 milligrams sodium, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber

Pub Date: 3/25/98

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