Who doesn’t love cauliflower? More importantly, who doesn’t love cauliflower drenched in cheese, bechamel, and bread crumbs…Ina Garten style!? No one? That’s what I thought.
I bought a head of cauliflower on a whim this past weekend because it was on sale. I had some healthful thoughts of roasting it with a bit of olive oil and garlic and serving with our butternut squash soup. Then we ran into our friend in the bookstore, and I knew I needed a new plan. If the soup had been a bust, we needed something to tide over hungry stomachs. Enter Ina Garten and her blueprints for making all vegetables even tastier fare.
This recipe is more of a weekend affair, as it takes a while, mostly because of the bechamel (lots of stirring needed for this one). It’s a good one for company, though, as you can assemble the dish in advance and then just pop it in the oven. If you have leftovers, reheat them in the oven (or a toaster oven!)…microwaves tend to take out the delicious crunch.
Cauliflower Au Gratin
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
- 1/2 stick butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups hot milk (you can warm in the microwave)
- black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup shredded or grated Gruyere cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus a handful for topping
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil; cook the cauliflower about 8 minutes – until tender, but still firm. Drain.
- Meanwhile, melt 1/2 the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the pan and stir until it comes to a boil (it will take a while!). As soon as it boils, whisk constantly for about a minute, until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Off heat, add about a teaspoon of salt, pepper to taste, the nutmeg, half of the Gruyere and all of the Parmesan, minus a handful, to the bechamel. Mix through.
- Pour one third of the sauce on the bottom of a baking dish (I used a 9×9 square). Place the cauliflower on top and spread the rest of the sauce evenly. Combine the breadcrumbs, the rest of the Gruyere, and a handful of Parmesan and then sprinkle on top.
- (This is when it gets really decadent). Melt the rest of the butter and then drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for about 30 minutes, until the top starts to brown. Serve immediately.
Do you see the amount of cheesy goodness in here? Enough said!