“Gratin de Pommes for Julia on a Summer’s Evening”

“Gratin de Pommes de Terre Provencal”
(“Scalloped Potatoes with Onions, Tomatoes, Anchovies, Herbs & Garlic”, page 525-526  “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, Volume One, Fortieth Anniversary Edition, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck, New York, Alfred A. Knopf 2008)
 I realized last week when Julia Child would have been 100 years old that I have never actually cooked any of her recipes.  I do own quite a few of her cookbooks.  I have always used her books as reference books, not as cooking books.
So in honor of Julia’s 100 birthday I pulled out my copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and followed her recipe for “Gratin de Pommes de Terre Provencal”.
The results? A light scalloped potato dish, speckled with fresh seeded tomatoes sautéed with onions, an anchovy-garlic paste & fresh thyme, dusted on the top with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano and baked until golden brown and bubbly. No cream or butter to  cover up the taste of the vegetables, just a wonderful freshness that emphasized the creaminess of the potatoes & spiciness of the other ingredients, all complimenting each other perfectly.
The original recipe is not at all complicated or fussy. I have taken the liberty to give the recipe in my own words to make it “blog friendly”.
2 cups thinly sliced onions
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded & juiced (This is the only change I made, I did not peel the Heirloom Tomatoes I used)
1/4 tsp salt
6 canned anchovies, packed in olive oil & drained
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 tsp basil, 1/4 tsp thyme (both fresh & chopped)
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 lbs boiled potatoes, sliced thinly
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Swiss Cheese
 1 tsp olive oil
1. Cook onions in 2 tbsp olive oil slowly together until tender but not browned. Cut seeded tomatoes into strips & gently stir into the onions. Set aside
2. In a small bowl, mash the anchovies, garlic, herbs, pepper & 2 tbsp olive oil into a paste-like mixture.
3.  Spread 1/4 of tomato-onion mixture in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Layer on top,  1/2 of the sliced potatoes, half the anchovy mixture and 1/2 of the remaining tomato-onion mixture. Layer on remaining potato slices & anchovy mixture, topping with remaining tomato-onion mixture. Sprinkle cheese & 1 tsp olive oil over the top.
4. Bake in middle of an oven preheated to 400 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. If top begins to brown too much, cover loosely with foil. Serve.
A heartfelt & belated “Bon Anniversaire” Julia.