Cooking On A Budget: Cauliflower Gratin

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cauliflower Gratin

The gratin was made entirely from ingredients I already had - no grocery store trip required. All ingredients were in my refrigerator. Earlier in the week I had purchased (on sale) the biggest head of cauliflower I have ever seen and some broccoli that was also on special. We used the broccoli and some of the cauliflower and served it with a cheese sauce for one nights dinner.  There was some left over panko topping from another dish I had made.
Therefore the night we made the Asian Barbecue Wings (recipe is up on this blog - check the archives) we needed a side dish. That's how this gratin was born. You of course, will have to make the cheese sauce and topping from scratch.
You will need a cooking spray - I use Pam.
Have your cheese sauce and topping made and set aside. The recipes for both are below. Then you want to take your head of cauliflower and cut into florets; removing the heavy stems. In a sauce pot with water bring the water up to a boil.  Add the cauliflower florets and cook (blanch) for 2-3 minutes. Drain well and even allow the cauliflower to dry out a bit. If you don't do this, your gratin will end up on the soupy side.

Easy cheese sauce: Heat 1 1/2 cups milk or half and half cream in a sauce pot. Add in any cheddar cheese you like (sliced or shredded) 8-10 oz.OR any cheese you have that melts well. We used up some American Cheese - about 10 slices. 2 good handfuls of grated Parmesan Cheese and white pepper to taste. Mix until all the cheese has melted. I suggest using a whisk for stirring.

For the topping:
  • 1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
In a small frying pan over medium heat melt the butter and olive oil. When the butter starts to sizzle, add in the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and spices.  Turn the heat down to low.  Keep stirring to combine and coat the bread crumbs. When the bread crumbs have become golden in color remove from the heat altogether. You may want to keep stirring as the pan retains the heat and you don't want to burn the crumbs.

  1. Spray an oven proof casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Add the florets to the casserole and the cheese sauce.  Mix well and top with the bread crumbs. Cover the top with aluminum foil or a lid if your dish comes with one.
  3. Bake the gratin in a preheated 325° oven for about an hour. You will insert a knife in the cauliflower to make sure it is cooked. The gratin should be bubbly at the edges and the topping a nice golden brown.
  4. Serve this as a side dish with any kind of poultry, beef, pork or seafood dish. Left overs can be refrigerated and warmed up in a low oven or in the microwave.

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