Cauliflower au Gratin

This is one of my favorite side dishes, based on Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris recipe. I like to think it has a little more nutrition and fewer calories than Potatoes au Gratin, but with all the cream and cheese, don’t get fooled into thinking it’s diet food. It’s from South of France, not South Beach…

Cauliflower au Gratin

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1 head of cauliflower
1/2 cup of butter, total
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups Half & Half
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs

To make things quicker and easier you’ll need a couple large pots for this recipe. One to cook the cauliflower and one for the white sauce. Preheat your galley oven to about 375º. Simmer the cauliflower in a pot of salted water for about 5 minutes, until al dente. You’ll want to be able to poke in a fork but still be firm.

Meanwhile, make a white sauce. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in your largest pot over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, continuing to stir. Pour the Half & Half into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it starts to bubble. Boil, stirring constantly with a flat wooden spatula until thickened. Shut off the burner (but don’t flip off your gas supply; you still have your oven on!) and 2 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 3/4 cup of the Gruyère, and the Parmesan cheese.

Fold the cauliflower into the cheese sauce, being careful not to break apart the florets.

Pour the mixture into a baking dish about the size of a cake pan. (today I made a smaller amount and it fit nicely into this small casserole. Following this recipe, using a whole head of cauliflower, use a larger dish.) Sprinkle the remaining Gruyère and the bread crumbs on top. Cut the remaining butter into pats and place on top. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and a little more nutmeg. (you don’t need the additional nutmeg, but I really like it.) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

It’s nice to have it browned on top. If you have a broiler in your galley oven you might want to light it for the last 3-5 minutes to crisp the top.

Serve hot or warm, anywhere, with anything!

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