What’s Cookin’ – Cauliflower au Gratin

I love cauliflower.  My family – not so much.  Cauliflower is inexpensive and readily available especially in the Wintertime when other fresh vegetables are, well, not so fresh.

Cauliflower is a member of the cabbage family which also includes brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, and collard greens.  I love all of these vegetables except brussels sprouts.  No matter how I prepare brussels sprouts, I don’t really like them.  My family – won’t even touch them so I made a vow to never make them again.  My family will, however, tolerate cauliflower especially when covered in cheese sauces or roasted.

Cauliflower is low in fat, low in carbs but high in dietary fiber, folate, water, and vitamin C.  Cauliflower is nutritionally dense and also contains several phytochemicals.  A high intake of cauliflower has been associated with reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Cauliflower can be roasted, boiled, fried, steamed or eaten raw. Boiling, especially for long periods, will result in a loss of nutritional value.  Steaming or microwaving, on the other hand, better preserves anticancer compounds.

I adapted a recipe for Cauliflower au Gratin that I found on the Tasty Kitchen website.  I halved the recipe which makes more than enough for 4 generous servings, and changed the cheese from Gruyère (or Swiss) to Parmigiano Reggiano.  You can easily use the other half of the head to make Mock Mashed Potatoes.

Cauliflower au Gratin – ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  (Note:  If you are preparing something else in the oven that calls for a setting of 350° F that will work, too.)  Prepare a 1½ quart baking dish by coating with cooking spray.  Set aside.  Clean, cut, and steam the cauliflower and set aside.

Note on steaming the cauliflower:  When you are cleaning and cutting the cauliflower, discard the tough outer leaves, but do not discard the tender ones.  Steam them along with the cauliflower – they are good to eat and add a nice touch of color.

In a small saucepan, melt 2 TB of butter.  Add the flour and cook for one minute.  Do not allow to brown.  Slowly add the cream, stirring continuously.  Bring to a low boil and allow to cook for another minute or until thickened.

Remove from the heat and add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and ½ cup of the cheese.

Stir until the cheese is melted.  Taste and add additional salt and pepper if necessary.  Do not skip the tasting step!

Pour half of the sauce into the prepared casserole dish.

Top with the steamed cauliflower.  Notice the nice green leaves?

Pour the remainder of the sauce over the top of the cauliflower.

Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of cheese over this mixture.  Sprinkle the top of this with the breadcrumbs.  Melt the remaining 1 TB of butter and drizzle it over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.

Cauliflower au Gratin ready to eat.


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