Recipe Makeover: Ham and Cheese Gratin

Classic French gratins bubbling with cheese are deliciously creamy and filling—and usually high in calories and saturated fat. But with a few smart substitutions, you can reduce the calories, cut the total fat, and slash the sodium. Here's how to do it.

  • Eliminate the olive oil by using cooking spray in the baking dish.
  • Use 2 percent milk instead of whole milk.
  • Add more vegetables.
  • Increase the flavor by adding low-fat ham.
  • Eliminate the Parmesan cheese and use only Gruyere.
  • Use breadcrumbs instead of bread slices.

This recipe serves: 6


3 cups 2 percent milk

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 bay leaf

Pinch ground nutmeg

4 russett potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Nonstick cooking spray

1/4 pound sliced, baked ham, chopped

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

Cooking instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, garlic, bay leaf, nutmeg, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down so that the mixture simmers, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes.

3. Drain the vegetables over a bowl. Retain 1 cup of the milk mixture and discard the bay leaf.

4. Spray a baking dish with nonstick oil and arrange half of the sliced vegetables in it. Sprinkle the ham and half of the cheese over the vegetables. Cover with the remaining vegetables. Pour the reserved milk over the vegetables and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs.

5. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking until the cheese and bread crumbs begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Serving Size: 1 wedge

Nutritional information

Number of Servings: 6

Per Serving

Calories 360

Carbohydrate 45 g

Fat 11 g

Fiber 5 g

Protein 20 g

Saturated Fat 6 g

Sodium 427 mg