I think one of my favorite hobbies is taking perfectly good Cooking Light recipes and systematically removing the “light” part. This started out as a Cooking Light idea and then I added all the butter back in and doubled the cheese and tinkered here and there.
But the wonderful thing about this recipe is that the cauliflower is roasted, which brings out a lot of flavor. I love roasted cauliflower. It is so much more interesting than steamed cauliflower, and more beautiful as well. This preparation also allows you to do much of the work ahead if you choose. You can roast the cauliflower and make the sauce and store them separately in the fridge, and then assemble it and bake it in a moderate oven until warmed, with a little turn under the broiler at the last minute when you add the panko topping.
Panko is wonderful, by the way. If you have never played with it, you need to. It is a Japanese style bread crumb that is very crunchy and crispy. You will find yourself using it often once you try it.
|Cauliflower Gruyere Gratin|| |
- 1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and broken into florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons butter (divided use)
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
- 1 tablespoon, plus ½ teaspoon chopped fresh sage (divided use)
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups of milk
- Salt and pepper for topping, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cauliflower florets in an oven safe dish and drizzle the olive oil all around it. Mix it so that the florets are evenly coated. Place the dish in the oven and roast the cauliflower for 30 to 40 minutes, until a fork pierces through a stalk without much resistance. If the cauliflower is browning too much before it becomes sufficiently softened, place some foil on top for the last 10 minutes. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and set it aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and allow it to melt. Add the flour and stir constantly for one minute. Using a whisk, slowly add the milk to the flour mixture, breaking up any lumps that form. Allow the sauce to boil gently, stirring constantly for 3 minutes until thick. Remove the sauce from the heat. Add ½ cup cheese and the chopped sage and stir until the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the roasted cauliflower to the saucepan of cheese and stir to completely coat the cauliflower. Then, spoon the cauliflower mixture into a small baking dish.
- In a small bowl combine the panko, 1 Tablespoon of melted butter, ½ cup of Gruyere cheese and ½ teaspoon of the remaining sage. Distribute the panko and cheese topping onto the cauliflower. Broil (carefully) for 2 to 3 minutes until the top is nicely browned.
Broiling makes me nervous. Don’t walk away.
I was able to cram a whole head of roasted cauliflower into a medium size gratin dish. If you are feeding more than 4 people (or 4 people with big appetites) consider doubling this recipe. This is why you might notice in the photographs that I started with a 9″ x 9″ dish for roasting and then transferred it to a gratin dish for the final step. It shrinks. So while you might look at one head of cauliflower and think it would feed an army, this is not necessarily so after it has been roasted.
During the sauce phase, use a whisk to produce a sauce that isn’t lumpy. I was being harried and hurried and my whisk was in the dishwasher, dirty of course, from a chocolate experiment. So my sauce is lumpy. But rest assured, that even lumpy sauce is fine here. The cauliflower will not know the difference and neither will your guests.