Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cauliflower Gratin

Ok, I know cauliflower isn't everyone's thing. It often brings up horrible memories of being forced to eat these goofy mini white tree looking things that remind you of the similarly disturbing broccoli by hearing stories of starving children in China, but this isn't that kind of cauliflower.

Well, I mean, it is, but it tastes much better. And while I can't help you with those memories of your depraved childhood, I can try to give you a new perspective on this often overlooked vegetable.

Because really, it's quite good.

It's pretty simple. We're all familiar with potato gratin, right? Potatoes cooked with a creamy cheese sauce and baked in the oven to give it a golden and slightly crunchy top and often made from a box? Yeah, well, it's like that but you replace the potato with cauliflower and ditch the box.

I use Ina Garten's recipe for this but really it's basically the same as Julia Child's recipe, so if you have her Mastering the Art of French Cooking lying around, you already have this recipe.

Pretty simple: Cut up and blanch some cauliflower. Make a roux, and your milk, let it thicken, add your cheese (she says Gruyere and Parmesan but you can use whatever you have around, though I do recommend using some Parmesan for the saltiness it brings), let that melt off the heat. Put 1/3 of it in the bottom of your pan, put the cauliflower on top, top with the rest of the cheese sauce, then throw more cheese and some breadcrumbs and some melted butter on top, put it in a 375 oven for 30 minutes, and you end up with a delicious side dish that can get anyone to choke down a vegetable.

Doesn't look so bad, does it? It's my favorite way to eat cauliflower. Yum yum yum. And it makes a great substitution for, say, green bean casserole, or some other side dish that you want to change up at the next feast.

Seriously. It will change your mind.

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