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Friday, June 25, 2010

potato gratin with summer savory

right after we moved into our place in seattle i took a careful tour of the yard, looking for any perennial herbs left behind by previous residents. i found only 7 small plants growing along the front of the house that looked like a less woody rosemary, but the taste indicated they were definitely not rosemary. the flavor was a little like thyme, but with the bitterness and pungency of oregano. i snipped a piece to take with me to the seattle tilth edible plant sale a few weeks later, and compared my sample to their herb starts. that's how i discovered we had 7 small summer savory plants in our yard.

once i'd learned what it was, i had a new critical question-- what the heck do you do with it? all of the online information i could find talked about its use in flavoring beans. it wasn't seeming like a terribly versatile herb, and i had 7 of them. (now we're down to 3, since i ripped out 4 to make the tomato bed.)

a couple of months ago i bought a new cookbook, the herbal kitchen by jerry traunfeld. jerry was executive chef at the way celebrated restaurant/inn, the herbfarm in woodinville, washington, before opening his new restaurant here in seattle, poppy. (maybe you saw him on top chef masters this past season! he didn't make it to the end, but we remain darn proud, just the same.) the bottom line is, jerry is a chef known for his knowledge of herbs, and his cookbook offered a great recipe-- a summer savory potato gratin. we're entering a potato drought for several weeks until the new season crops are ready at olsen farms, and the gratin was a perfect use for my final 2 pounds of yukon golds until later in the summer.

summer savory potato gratin
adapted from the herbal kitchen by jerry traunfeld

2 lbs organic waxy or russet potatoes, like yukon golds or rio grande
1+ Tbsp butter cut into dices, plus some softened for preparing the pan
1/4 cup chopped shallot
1/4 cup chopped summer savory (substitutions: 2 Tbps chopped winter savory or chopped thyme)
1 cup (or more) grated good quality gruyere cheese
3/4 cup milk (we used organic 2%)
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

heat oven to 400 degrees. peel potatoes and slice them as close to 1/16" as you can. (remember when i said you have to get a mandoline if you don't have one? i'm serious. go get one now. you can slice 2 lbs of potatoes in, like, 4 minutes.)

butter a gratin dish (glass or ceramic) and arrange 1/3 of the potato slices around the bottom. top with 1/2 shallots, 1/3 savory, and 1/3 cheese. sprinkle with salt and pepper. repeat twice more, topping with savory and cheese. (season each layer with salt and pepper!) dot top with the diced butter and pour milk over top.

bake 40-45 minutes until browned and bubbly.

yukon gold potatoes-- olsen farms
shallots-- pipitone farm


  1. Mmm, this looks yummy! I was starting to wonder what to do with the savory I planted as well!

  2. hey meg! let me know if you come up with other fun uses! i've seen it as "blah blah blah with mixed herbs," and on fresh green beans, but i'd love to get more use out of it.

  3. Hello Angela,

    We've selected you as our Foodista Food Blog of the Day for July 12th! This blog post for potato gratin will be featured on the Foodista homepage for 24 hours. This is a new feature that we recently launched and are thrilled to post your blog.

    Since you are now a part of the Foodista Featured Blogger of The Day Community, we've created a special badge for you to display proudly on your blog sidebar. I couldn't find your email on your blog to send you the access code for the special badge, but I want to make sure you get it if you are interested. Please send me an email and I'll send it right away.
    We are really enjoying your blog and look forward to seeing your recipes, tips and techniques on Foodista! If you would not like to be recognized on Foodista please let me know and I will remove your blog from our queue.

    Andrea Mitchell

  4. well now *this* sure does make me smile. emailing you now! thank you, andrea!

  5. I'm going to attempt this one. Anything potato I love!!! Americus sure is missing your smiling ole self!
    Check my new blog out at

  6. hey dawson, that's awesome! how fun to keep up with you like this! (let me know if you try the gratin!)

  7. Congratulations on being chosen for Foodista Food Blog of the day today!

  8. Yep, looks like savory, alright! I grew some last year with thyme. I really like putting it into stuffing... the dish you made sounds delicious.

  9. christine-- thanks! i'm looking forward to being part of the community!

    J-- delicious indeed! the recipe is brilliant and bullet-proof. stuffing, you say? i'm in.