CAULIFLOWER GRATIN

It was Mark Twain that said "Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education." I couldn't agree more. Cauliflower itself is actually quite a sophisticated vegetable but with really a bland taste and one that needs a bit of help. I find adding flavours, in this case being cheese and a creamy bechamel sauce, really adds the necessary boost that the cauliflower needs. Gratin essentially means a baked on crust and this method brings out the nutty flavour out of the cheese and the vegetable. This would be a great side dish with any meat that you're serving. Enjoy!

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F.

Baking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (substitute: olive oil)
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • pinch of ground or fresh nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (recommended: use day old butter croissants)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and lightly spray a casserole baking dish. Quickly blanch (i.e. partially cook) the caulflower florets in a pot of salted boilng water, for about 3 minutes. Drain the cauliflower and let it sit in the colander for a bit, to ensure all of the excess water is drained.

2. In a saucepan, on medium high heat, melt in 2 tbsp of butter and stir in 3 tbsp of flour. Let the flour cook for a minute, then slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of chicken stock and the 1-1/2 cups of warm milk. Keep whisking until you see the sauce thicken. Then season with salt, pepper and the ground nutmeg. Turn the heat off, then add in the shredded Gruyere and whisk it until it is well incorporated into the sauce.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the fresh breadcrumbs, chopped fresh parsley and the grated Parmesan cheese. Then start to assemble the gratin, by first adding in the drained cauliflower, topped with the cheesy bechamel sauce and then sprinkling the breadcrumb mixture on top. Bake it in the oven for about 25 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top. Cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Cook's notes: If you would like to use all milk in the bechamel than please do. I happen to like the depth that chicken stock gives. You could also substitute Gruyere for a nice sharp white cheddar if you prefer that.


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