Cauliflower Gratin

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Have you ever been sorting through your food pics and found a bunch that you forgot about and never posted on?  Well, that never happens to me.  Usually, I cook food and it is either gobbled up before I ever have a chance to photograph it, it’s late and I’m too tired to photograph it, or I get so busy that it sits in the fridge until it starts to decay and then I can’t photograph it.  So, imagine what a nice surprise it was for me to find these photos of a delicious cauliflower gratin that I made a few months ago.  I really meant to share it with you then, but I totally forgot!  Better late than never, I guess. 

In French, “le gratin” means crust and the verb “gratiner” means to brown.  Thus, a gratin is a sort of a French casserole in which ingredients are topped with a mixture of breadcrumbs, grated cheese and butter that are baked or broiled to form a golden crust on top.  It is traditionally served right from the oven in its baking dish.  Gotta love that!


For my cauliflower gratin, I used a recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris.  It’s a pretty easy one that doesn’t take a whole lot of time to execute.  That’s what I love about Ina’s recipes.  They’re written so that real people can actually make them at home without having to hire a kitchen staff!  Plus, they always work AND they taste great.  What could be better than that? 😉

The foundation of this gratin is, of course, the cauliflower.  However, you can make a gratin – especially this gratin – with any vegetables you choose.   Frankly, since whatever you use is going to be bathed in an incredibly creamy, rich, cheesy béchamel sauce, who really cares!   Actually, I’m just kidding about that part, (um…not really).   My point is that no matter what ingredients you decide to “gratin” using this recipe, the result will be fabulous!

So, let’s get started!

First, you need to cook your cauliflower until it’s “al dente”.  This takes about 5-6 minutes.


Then, make the cheesy béchamel sauce.  Don’t let the fancy French name throw you.  It’s really easy!


Don’t forget the cheese!


Put it all together…


And bake!





Doesn’t that look just marvelous?  Trust me, it is!  This cauliflower gratin is simple and rustic enough to whip up for a casual, weeknight meal, yet it’s classy enough to serve to company.  An added perk is that it can be served hot or at room temperature, so it makes a perfect “make ahead” dish.    And, look how nicely this dish goes with the color red.  This means that it will look beautiful on your Holiday buffet!  There you go.  Now, you have no excuse not to make this one!


Cauliflower Gratin
adapted from Barefoot in Paris


1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used leftover herb stuffing mix.)


1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2.  Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.

3.  Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan.

4.  Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.


35 responses to Cauliflower Gratin

  1. On December 12, 2009 at 1:12pm, Kalyn said...

    Oh my, this looks fantastic.

  2. On December 12, 2009 at 1:14pm, Wandering Chopsticks said...

    Mmm. I love gratins and cauliflower. I like the red candles in the background. It’s raining in SoCal today and so the candles just look so inviting!

    I once made this with purple cauliflower. Hehe. The cream was a weird lavender color but the cauliflower itself cooked up really dark.

  3. On December 12, 2009 at 2:20pm, gfe--gluten free easily said...

    Susan how could you forgot those photos? They are spectacular. You know I always thought I disliked cauliflower until a friend made a dish very similar to this for me. I was in love. I think this could easily be adpated to be gluten free.

  4. On December 12, 2009 at 2:27pm, Abby (Nibble, Nourish, Run) said...

    Oooh this looks divine. I’m such a big cauliflower fan but always make it the same boring way…! Certainly need to try this…the pictures are completely mouthwatering!

  5. On December 12, 2009 at 4:34pm, Kevin said...

    Nice looking gratin! You just can’t go wrong with a cheesy crusty gratin!

  6. On December 12, 2009 at 5:59pm, Rosa said...

    That is one of my favorite ways of eating cauliflower! Great gratin!



  7. On December 12, 2009 at 7:04pm, Donna said...

    Susan, I love cauliflower and will be making this dish very soon… YUMO!!! It looks so good and like you said you could almost do any veggie with it. Thanks…. Have a fun filled day my friend!


  8. On December 12, 2009 at 7:07pm, Ronda said...

    Oh my word…..that looks Heavenly!!

  9. On December 12, 2009 at 8:23pm, Dia said...

    I bought a huge caulflower today thinking I was going to make a great salad with it, but now will
    give this one a try. Cauliflower is a vegetable many people have not tried.

  10. On December 12, 2009 at 9:50pm, pam said...

    I have more food pictures than I know what to do with! That’s why, sometimes on Wednesdays, I post, “What was it Wednesday” where I post some sadly forgotten food picture. I’m currently on 2008 pictures!

  11. On December 12, 2009 at 10:17pm, laura said...

    ohhh that looks so good Susan! I’m seriously going to have to make that!

  12. On December 12, 2009 at 10:57pm, thecoffeesnob said...

    I used to eat this all the time at university! It’s so delicious and a great way to get some vegetables in. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Susan!

  13. On December 13, 2009 at 8:23am, grace said...

    so apparently, the secret to making cauliflower enjoyable for me is adding copious cheese and butter. i think this dish looks absolutely delicious, susan–brilliant work!

  14. On December 13, 2009 at 2:14pm, The Italian Dish said...

    Looks absolutely delicious, Susan! I love your photographs with the candles!

  15. On December 13, 2009 at 8:20pm, MaryBeth said...

    This looks and sounds really good, however I am not a big fan of Cauliflower. Would this work with Broccoli?

  16. On December 13, 2009 at 9:02pm, Mary Coleman said...

    I’m so glad someone else is as into cauliflower as I am!! Faboo recipe!!!

  17. On December 13, 2009 at 10:00pm, The Food Hunter said...

    What a great looking gratin. It does look really good with the red

  18. On December 14, 2009 at 2:07am, nina said...

    There is something so warm and comforting about a gratin and your photos just emphasize that!!!

  19. On December 14, 2009 at 10:18am, Jason Sandeman said...

    Very nice. You cannot really go wrong with the ingredients in this post. If I could get my son to eat the cauliflower this way, it would be a victory for all! Thanks on that!

  20. On December 14, 2009 at 1:12pm, patsyk said...

    OMG! I love the look of this recipe! I am going to have to make it soon as I just know that it will get my youngest to eat cauliflower with that cheesey goodness!

  21. On December 14, 2009 at 1:46pm, Jeff said...

    I laughed because while in the process of moving to the new domain I ended up not posting as much. Now I have a backhaul of posts. Problem is some of them I can’t actually remember what in the freak I used so I am struggling.

    I did the Cauliflower Gratin that is from the French Laundry cookbook and that was the biggest PITA ever! Definitely going to give this one a shot.

    Awesome job!

  22. On December 14, 2009 at 2:48pm, CookiePie said...

    I remember seeing her make this on her show! Just gorgeous. I love cauliflower, and this is the perfect way to enjoy it. Delish!!

  23. On December 14, 2009 at 3:23pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    That’s one way to get people to eat their vegetables! Cover them in cheese. Woo hoo!

    People are always telling me this is a great recipe. I haven’t made it yet because my husband would shrink back at the milk/cheese content, but perhaps I should just make a big pan of it for me. He might get envious and decide to eat it after all.

  24. On December 14, 2009 at 5:25pm, Alexandra said...

    Um. I want to dig into a big pan of this. Stat.

  25. On December 14, 2009 at 6:15pm, Daily Spud said...

    Aha, I had noticed the picture of the gratin earlier on Tastespotting – the red background is definitely eye-catching and the gratin, well that just sounds luscious, apart from which anything involving gruyere gets my vote!

  26. On December 14, 2009 at 9:04pm, Joan Nova said...

    What a find for your readers! This looks delicious…and it might even accompany our Christmas Day roast!

  27. On December 14, 2009 at 10:17pm, Phyllis Kirigin said...

    Great photos, great recipes. I’m going to add the cauliflower gratin to my Christmas menu. Thought you might give me a pointer or two about how to set up my own little photography area. I don’t have the sophisticated equipment that you do. I have a Canon IXY digital, but want to improve the quality of my photos. I just bought a tripod and two clamp lights. That’s all so far. I have good sunlight through my dining room window.

    Phyllis, aka

  28. On December 20, 2009 at 1:30pm, Lucy said...

    You’ve turned a simple vegetable into something that looks truly sublime! Irresistible. 😀

  29. On December 29, 2009 at 3:34pm, Teri @ Make A Whisk said...

    I’m not normally a huge fan of cauliflower, but this looks incredible, and is the second Ina Garten cauliflower recipe to tempt me this week. I might have to be brave and try it. :)

  30. On January 07, 2010 at 1:54pm, Eliana said...

    This looks absolutely amazing. The first picture is like a work of art.

  31. On November 27, 2010 at 6:16pm, patsy said...

    I made a version of this dish for our Thanksgiving meal this year and it was fantastic!!! I added broccoli and changed the cheese to Fontina with delicious results! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe… it’s going to be making frequent appearances at our dinner table.

  32. On December 21, 2010 at 4:49pm, Theresa said...

    I was thinking about making this recipe for Christmas and your pictures convinced me to do it!

  33. On January 07, 2011 at 9:01pm, Bob said...

    Heart attack on a plate.

  34. On January 12, 2011 at 9:19pm, Lynn said...

    I made this tonight, it was delicious. Will keep as one of my go-to recipes for cauliflower.

  35. On October 22, 2014 at 8:09am, Gavin said...

    We stumbled over here coming from a different web page and thought I might check things out.
    I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to going over
    your web page repeatedly.

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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