Organic full fat coconut milk and organic, unrefined coconut products provide much nutrition and many health benefits. Rich in lauric acid, coconut milk is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-cancer, and has been shown to improve thyroid function and promote weight loss. And no, you do not need to be scared of the fat - coconut fat is made up of easily metabolized medium-chain fatty acids that are essential for cellular integrity and brain development.
What you should be concerned about is the quality of your coconut products. They should be as unrefined as possible. Look for raw, unrefined, organic, and virgin on the label when shopping for products such as coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut water, and coconut cream. You can also make your own homemade coconut milk from whole coconuts.
Enough about coconuts, back to the gratin.
Roots Farm has the most beautiful freshly dug heirloom potatoes. I wish I had thought to bring my camera to the market because they looked so much more amazing pouring out of their crate onto the table. You can probably tell from the picture that the skins are barely hanging on to these fresh lil babies - I had to be extra gentle when washing them so as not to loose their radiant colors. Apparently, freshly dug potatoes are higher in moisture and lower in starch - so they cook faster than older potatoes and you can have a second helping without feeling starch guilt.
potato gratin w/ spring garlic
3 lbs potatoes
2 tbsp dried herbs* or 6 sprigs fresh herbs
2 cups coconut milk, whole raw milk or homemade nut milk
4 sprigs early spring green garlic or 1 head garlic
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Over medium heat, combine the milk and herbs in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off, cover and let flavors meld for 10 minutes.
Using a sharp knife or food processor, slice the potatoes into 1/8 inch slices. Set aside.
Slice the green spring garlic on a slant, using the entire sprig. If using regular garlic, remove skin and thinly slice each clove. Set aside.
In a 10"x13" square or 12" round glass or ceramic baking dish, layer the potatoes to cover the bottom of the dish. Ladle some of the coconut milk and herb mixture over top and follow with a sprinkling of sea salt and garlic. Repeat. When you have placed the last layer of potatoes on top, press down firmly with your fingers to release any air holes. Pour the remaining coconut milk and herb mixture over the top.
Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
Remove foil and raise oven temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
Make sure you can pierce the gratin easily with a knife before removing from the oven. If it needs more time, continue to bake 10 more minutes.
*I just love Tom Shepherd's herbes de provence - you can buy it in bulk from his stand in late fall and winter to use year round.
Serve this garlicky gratin with a salad, alongside grilled or roasted beef, or as your favorite holiday side dish.