Just as we like to wrap ourselves in warming layers in the fall, we can do the same with our vegetables. Cloak your favorite hardy veggies in béchamel and cheese, and your simple summer staples will morph into a warm and comforting side dish. I found yellow cauliflower at the market the other day and mixed it with white cauliflower in this gratin. Don’t just experiment with color. Get creative with other veggies, such as broccoli florets, chunks of celeriac or diced rutabaga for variety and flavor. As long as there is a blanket of cheese and bechamel, this gratin is a winner.
Serves 6 as a side dish
1 large head of cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 ounces Gruyere (or sharp Cheddar) cheese, grated
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs, lightly toasted
Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.) Butter 6 individual ramekins (or a gratin dish).
Steam the cauliflower until crisp tender. Transfer to a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and cook until light golden, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly, the continue to cook, stirring, until the bechamel thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the Gruyere cheese, whisking until smooth. Pour the bechamel over the cauliflower and stir to thoroughly coat. Spoon into the ramekins. Combine the Parmesan and panko in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the tops of the gratins. Bake until golden on top and bubbling, about 30 minutes.