Ok, so I know most people associate lavender with sweet treats and refreshing drinks. Which is fair. That’s usually how it’s used! Recently, however, I tried a lavender cheddar cheese and it broke my brain. It was seriously so good. This particular cheese was from a fancy cheese store, and I’ve literally never seen it anywhere else. So I opted to combine the two ingredients myself to make this creamy au gratin potatoes with white cheddar and lavender recipe more accessible. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to that enchanting lavender cheddar I’d tried. But while it wasn’t an exact dupe (which I wasn’t going for anyway), I was beyond happy with the result. In fact, I will almost certainly be using the combo again. I might even use it several times!
Where do I get lavender?
Good question. I’m glad you asked. While some grocery stores may carry it, it’s probably easiest and cheapest to buy dried lavender online. I bought mine from Amazon and was very happy with the quality. Here’s a link to the one I got. Alternately, if you happen to have a lavender plant, you can use that! Just make sure that it’s fit for culinary use, as there are multiple types and some are purely ornamental.
Do I need to use a specific type of cheddar?
In my opinion, aged white cheddar works best here. I’m a big fan of Kerrygold, and I actually found a really lovely aged white cheddar at Trader Joe’s. I personally wouldn’t recommend yellow cheddar because the color isn’t quite what I was going for. That said, if all you can find is aged yellow cheddar or you’re just an aged yellow cheddar stan, go for it. My one request is that you avoid pre-shredded cheddar. I think you’ll find that the quality of a good ol’ fashion block of cheddar is just far superior to the shredded variety. Plus, you won’t have to worry about anti-sticking agents creating issues with the consistency of your sauce if you avoid them entirely!
Do I have to use a mandoline slicer?
You don’t have to use a mandoline for this per se. But it will make your job a lot easier, as the potato should be sliced very thinly, and doing so with a knife just takes a lot more time and effort. If you do decide to go the mandoline route, stay safe. Seriously – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve slashed my fingers with mine. I don’t say that to discourage you – I use mine constantly. I did buy a pair of protective gloves, though, which has been an absolute game changer.
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Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes with White Cheddar and Lavender
- 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes (Thinly sliced)
- 1 Medium yellow onion (Thinly sliced)
- 3 tbsp Unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp All purpose flour
- 2 cups Milk
- 1 tsp Dried lavender
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups Aged white cheddar (Coarsely grated)
- A bit more dried lavender
- Flaky sea salt
- Grease a large oven safe skillet or baking dish and preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
- Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Then mix in the flour and whisk continuously for about a minute before adding the milk, lavender, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook for a few minutes until the mixture has thickened. Add in 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated white cheddar and stir until it's fully melted (this'll take a minute or less). Remove from heat.
- Add a 1/2 inch layer of thinly sliced potatoes to the pan. Now add a 1/2 inch layer of thinly sliced onions. (You don't have to get too precise here – you can eyeball it.) Repeat this process until you're about half way through the ingredients. Then add half the sauce and continue filling the baking vessel with potatoes and onions, finishing with a layer of potatoes and topping it all off with the other half of the sauce! Sprinkle with remaining cheese, cover with tin foil and bake in the oven for an hour and a half, or until very tender.
- Remove the tin foil and broil on high for 3-5 mintues, or until golden and bubbly. Sprinkle with a bit more dried lavender and some flaky sea salt and enjoy!
That’s it! This honestly makes a ton of food. It’s awesome as a side dish (and probably makes the most sense that way), but we definitely also ate it for dinner with some salad and it made for a perfectly satisfying meal. So do as you will. If you opt to eat it as a side, it’ll probably serve at least 8 people.
If you make these white cheddar and lavender au gratin potatoes, let me know how you liked it in the comments or on Instagram! I always love hearing from you.
And if you’re looking for more savory sides, check out my roasted cabbage wedges with miso caramel and yuzu kosho or my roasted radishes with brown butter and chives. Or if you’d like to go the salad route, this would pair perfectly with my chopped kale salad with farro, dried apricot, and garlic vinaigrette.