I am the biggest sucker for a side dish that steals the show.  And what if it was a side dish that could also serve as a main dish?  In the same way as a substantial baked mac and cheese can be either an entree or a side, so can a vegetable gratin.  The cheesy sauce, the breadcrumb topping, the toothsomeness of tender sturdy cauliflower – add a salad to this and I probably couldn’t even tell you if there was something else on the table.  

Cauliflower au Gratin

This casserole is perfect for the holidays – a terrific addition to a Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s menu, and also great for Easter.   But again, also hearty enough to be a main course for a cold winter night dinner.  And while there are a few steps involved, the whole thing is very easy to pull together.

The name gratin or au gratin comes from the French word “gratiner” which means to broil.  You might also see this called a Gratiniata, Gratine, or Gratinee.  Different names in different languages, but this type of dish is popular in Mediterranean cuisines, especially Italian and French, as well as American cooking.

Cauliflower au Gratin

If you want to make this a gluten free casserole you can use gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose.  The flour – along with the cheeses and milk – create a rich, creamy sauce that isn’t at all watery.

Cauliflower Gratin: This is downright irresistible with a rich cheesy sauce, crunchy breadcrumb topping, and tender cauliflower.

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How to Make Cauliflower au Gratin

In a large deep skillet, cook the bacon over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the pancetta is crispy, about 5 minutes.  Transfer with a slotted spoon to the paper towel-lined plate.  Leave about 1 tablespoon fat in the pan and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the same skillet.  Toast the breadcrumbs until are golden brown and slightly crispy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape the breadcrumbs into a medium bowl.

Return the pan to the heat and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and whisk frequently until the mixture is well combined and blond in color, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the half-and-half or milk and bring to a simmer over medium high heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture is bubbling and thickened.  Season with salt and pepper and whisk in half of the gruyere until it’s melted, along with the cooked bacon.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  When the water is boiling, add the cauliflower and cook for about 4 minutes, until crisp-tender.  Drain, then add the cauliflower to the sauce and toss to combine well.  Transfer to a prepared baking dish.  

Cauliflower au Gratin

Add the remaining ½ cup gruyere and the Parmesan to the bowl with toasted breadcrumbs and stir to blend.   Sprinkle the mixture over the cauliflower.  

Cauliflower au Gratin

Bake for at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until bubbling around the edges and golden brown on top.  Serve hot or warm.

What to Serve with Cauliflower au Gratin:

Cauliflower au Gratin

Other Cauliflower Recipes:

Also see How to Cook Cauliflower.

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Cauliflower au Gratin

This is downright irresistible with a rich cheesy sauce, crunchy breadcrumb topping, and tender cauliflower.
Yield: 10 People

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces thick sliced bacon or pancetta , diced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , divided
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups half and half or whole milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds), cut into florets
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Gruyere cheese , divided
  • ½ cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a plate with paper towels. Lightly oil a 1 ½ quart baking dish, or a 9-inch round or square baking pan, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large deep skillet, cook the bacon or pancetta over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the paper towel-lined plate. Leave about 1 tablespoon fat in the pan; pour out any extra. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and slightly crispy, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and scrape the breadcrumbs into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Return the pan to the heat and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and whisk frequently until the mixture is well combined and blond in color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half or milk and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Simmer, whisking frequently, until the mixture is bubbling and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in half of the gruyere until it’s melted, along with the reserved crispy pancetta.
  • Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the cauliflower and cook for about 4 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain in a then add the drained cauliflower to the sauce and toss to combine well. Transfer the sauced cauliflower into the prepared baking dish. Add the remaining ½ cup gruyere and the Parmesan to the bowl with toasted breadcrumbs and stir to blend. Sprinkle the mixture over the cauliflower.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until bubbling around the edges and golden brown on top. Serve hot or warm.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 306kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 383mg | Potassium: 314mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 522IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 292mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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