Beets Margaret Atwood

from A Taste of Haida Gwaii

I found a recipe for Beets Dauphinoise many, many years ago in a Gourmet magazine. I cut it out and lost it, many years ago, so it is safe to say this recipe comes from my head. How I choose to make it depends on whatever else is competing for attention in my head on any given day, but I am giving you my best shot here. Since “dauphinoise” (usually a potato dish baked in milk, cream, and cheese) means that it comes from the Dauphine area of France, near the Italian border, I have decided to call my dish something closer to home. When Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson stayed at Copper Beech House, I made this dish, and Margaret asked for this recipe. It seemed fitting that I name it in her honour.

Serves 4


3 lbs (1.5 kg) beet roots

½ cup (120 mL) chicken or vegetable stock

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup diced shallots

2 scallions, diced fine

2 cups (475 mL) heavy cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 cups (475 mL) grated Gruyere or Emmental cheese

1/3 cup (80 mL) panko

Daubs of butter, to taste

¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly grated nutmeg

What To Do

Preheat oven to 375F (190C).

Scrub beets and slice them into the tiniest (1/8-inch/3 mm thin) slices you can manage. I have purchased a mandolin which makes the job easier, but then you have to wash it without cutting your fingers off, so ease, as always, comes with a price. Layer the slices in a gratin dish and press them down with the back of a spoon. They should come to just below the top of the dish.

Mince one garlic clove, dice the shallots and add to the dish.

Bring stock, heavy cream, one minced garlic clove and scallions to a simmer in a large saucepan and pour this mixture over the beets. The cream should come to just below the top layer of beets (top up with more cream if necessary).

Sprinkle with grated cheese, breadcrumbs, and daubs of butter. Place on a rimmed baking sheet (in case of overflow) and bake until bubbly and golden brown on top, 40-45 minutes.

Remove from oven and grate nutmeg over top just before serving.

Nada’s Tips & Tricks: If you don’t like the mess red beets make in your kitchen, buy the white variety – not as strong as the infamous earthy taste of red beets but less clean up! Beets will be in your farmer’s markets soon – stock up and use this recipe as your starch with a lovely grilled steak.

Contents and images used with permission by author, Susan Musgrave, and publisher, Whitecap Books