Taste: Mildly cheesy with a hint of warmth and salty topping.
Texture: The tender cauliflower are suspended in a rich, creamy, and cheesy sauce which is perfectly complimented by a crisp and crunchy breadcrumb topping. Aren’t gratins wonderful?
Ease: Straightforward and fairly easy. If making for T-day I would steam the cauliflower up to 3 days ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Appearance: When it comes out of the oven the sauce is bubbling under the golden brown bread crumb topping.
Pros: Who knew vegetables could taste so good? (Granted, anything slathered in a cheese sauce and topped with breadcrumbs will probably be pretty tasty).
Cons: Dish does not reheat very well so it can’t be made completely ahead of time.
Would I make this again? Yes!
From Real Simple November 2010
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
- 2 small heads cauliflower (about 3 pounds total), cored and cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (1 1⁄2 cups)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Heat oven to 375° F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water and fit with a steamer basket; bring the water to a boil. Place the cauliflower in the basket, cover, and steam until very tender, 12 to 15 minutes; drain well.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Whisk in the cheese, nutmeg, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, whisking, until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and gently fold in the cauliflower; transfer to the baking dish.
- In a bowl, toss together the bread crumbs, parsley, oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the cauliflower and bake until golden brown and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes.