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Cauliflower Gratin

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 [1] Barefoot in Paris [2].  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 [3] 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.