If you are like us, then you generally stay away from any type of starter mixes. For example, ones that help you with stuffing for the holidays are in particular the type that we avoid. Usually they have flavors and spices that are heavy on the bouillon as well as the salt.
But, when we saw the root vegetable gratin starter from Williams-Sonoma we decided to give it a try. Part of the appeal was that it was for a Gratin, and for several months we have been trying to perfect a root vegetable scallop recipe. We’ve had a bit of difficulty with that. This Williams-Sonoma mix has “root vegetable” in the title, which is exactly what we are interested in doing, since we believe that potatoes are overused.
We chose a selection of mixed baby carrots and parsnips for the base, which we diced or sliced into thin morsels, and used grated Parmesan cheese as the optional extra cheese topping.
Our philosophy tends to be that recipes should be considered as guidelines, rather than as strict instructions. In this way we are a bit like the pirates in the Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley movie “The Pirates of the Caribbean.” For them, the pirates code was not a strict set of rules but rather “guidelines.” However, for the sake of Williams-Sonoma recipe testing we decided to follow their instructions precisely. Fortunately they were very explicit and easy to follow.
The resulting dish was actually quite tasty. In general everyone who tasted the recipe found surprisingly delicious, even though it still had a bit of that excess bouillon flavor to it that we try to avoid. We think that calling it “scalloped” root vegetable instead of a “gratin” also helped its inherent attractiveness.
We are not sure if this item is still available from William-Sonoma, but its success does make it easier for us to consider reviewing others in the future.