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Cauliflower Gratin

Cauliflower Gratin (Gratin de Chou-fleur) is one of the classic French gratin dish - a casual dish in every French family. It's another great way to eat this veggie besides eating it simply boiled, fried, steamed or even raw.

Cauliflower has very high nutritional density: obviously low in fat, it's also high in dietary fiber and an excellent source of vitamin B5, B6, C and folate. It also contains sulforaphane, which has anti-cancer properities. So to make it short, it's supposed to be healthier than fries and you should eat some. There, I said it:-p

How to Select and Store

Season: December to March. Look for clean, creamy white and compact curd, while avoiding spotted or dull-coloured ones or those that have small flowers on them. Uncooked cauliflower can be stored up to a week if kept in a paper or plastic bag, preferably upside down to get any moisture out of it.

This recipe is also an entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by The Expatriate's Kitchen.

Cauliflower Gratin
Ingredients
  • 1 cauliflower (trimmed and separated into florets)
  • For the Béchamel Sauce :
    • 30 g plain flour
    • 30 g butter or margarine
    • ½ litre milk
    • salt, nutmeg & pepper

Directions
  1. Cook the cauliflower in a pot of boiling salted water for about 20 minutes or until soft (according to your preference). Drained and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4)
  3. Spread the cauliflower in a baking dish, pour the béchamel sauce all over it. Sprinkle generously grated cheese on top.
  4. Bake it for about 15 to 20 minutes or just 5 minutes under grill mode until the top is golden brown.

To prepare the Béchamel sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan at medium heat. Make sure that the butter doesn't turn brown.
  2. Add the flour into the melted butter and stir it vigorously with a whisk. Continue to stir vigorously until you obtain a mousse like mixture.
  3. Stir in the milk a little at a time (make sure it's well incorporated), vigorously to avoid getting lumps.
  4. When about half the milk is in, switch to a balloon whisk and start adding large amounts of milk instead, but always whisking briskly. Your reward will be a smooth, glossy, creamy sauce.
  5. Whisk it until it thickens, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting.
  6. Season it with salt, nutmeg and pepper.
  7. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes (whisk it from time to time) and then remove from heat.
Cauliflower Gratin
The Verdict

I'm a big fan of cauliflower, I love the naturally sweet, milky and slightly nutty flavor of the plant. Combine this with the béchamel sauce and grilled cheesy top and you get some extra 'oomph' that will encourage children (or adults who aren't keen on eating vegetetables) to give it a go. My picky 1 year old loves it very much.

Notes

For an additional crunch, sprinkle some bread crumbs on top of the grated cheese before baking it in the oven.

Heat up the leftover in the oven at 180°C for about 10 minutes. I usually do it the lazy way - just pop it in the microwave oven.:-p

Cauliflower Gratin
15 comments.
#1, by Peter (11/07/2007)

Ninja, great colour, simples ingredients = tasty side!

#2, by Kevin (11/08/2007)

That looks pretty good. It has been a while since I have had Cauliflower. I will have to pick some up.

#3, by Patricia Scarpin (11/08/2007)

One of my all time favorites.

#4, by aria (11/08/2007)

mmm, yum that looks amazing! i love gratins so much this time of year especially. i'll take mine now please, thx!

#5, by Judy (11/08/2007)

My family loves this. My kids can just have this on its own or as a snack.

We call it cauliflower cheese here.:-)

#6, by Cynthia (11/09/2007)

This is bookmarked to make! Looks fantastic.

#7, by keeyit (11/09/2007)

First time I see people cook the cauliflower with cheese. Normally, I cook cauliflower with other vegetables or meat together... Hehehe.. typical chinese styles..

#8, by Katie (11/09/2007)

Ahhh, the Brit's beloved 'Cauliflower Cheese'! Actually, I rather love it myself. Sometimes I toss the leftovers with pasta or rice for lunch!

#9, by Wendy (11/11/2007)

I adore cauliflower cheese! Must make it tonight. Thanks for the inspiration!:-)

#10, by beachlover (11/12/2007)

wah!! I never see cauliflower bake with cheese!!.Since you cook creamy cauliflower,did you ever other color like purple and green cauliflower?.I saw these different color at Farm market and it's locally grown too.Very huge!.I tot they spray the color but it's not after I break one of the stem..So jakun me!hahaha!!

#11, by teczcape - an escape to food (11/12/2007)

So healthy with the mention of cauliflower. And it seem quite easy to prepare.

#12, by gay (11/12/2007)

Lovely cauliflower you have. I agree, it seems easy to prepare.

#13, by Sylvia (11/12/2007)

I love, love, cauliflower gratin ,my mom usually made for us (me and my sister) in our childhood and your recipe is the same that she made, lots of bechamel.Thanks for bring me this lovely memories

#14, by Kalyn (11/13/2007)

Love that last photo with the final dish! It looks great. I'm a huge cauliflower fan.

#15, by Ani (11/15/2007)

Oh Yum!