Try, try, try again…

Let’s talk Cauliflower Gratin. What can you say about a vegetable that is merely a vehicle for cream and cheese? No much bad, I think. And, because Cauliflower Gratin carries the moniker of “vegetable”, it does no wrong, has no fouls, causes no heart attacks, and contains no calories. At least, that’s my position and I’m sticking to it! That said, while I love the idea of all that cheese and cream- the reality of it all can be oppressing.

Saturday night’s menu is what got me thinking so hard about this dish. We had friends up from the city for dinner and I wanted to make a yummy vegetable that could double as a starch. Cauliflower Gratin was a natural- and I still had the amazing one Jonathan Waxman made for us in France rolling around my brain. Could I duplicate his? I turned to an Ina Garten recipe as a base and as I made it, I knew I was in trouble. I was looking for Cauliflower with a bit of cream and cheese yet, light and delicate too. Her recipe was so thick and heavy it could’ve stop a Mack truck. Now, don’t get me wrong-it was tasty. It just wasn’t what I wanted. After dinner I threw the lot of it out.

Sunday morning found me craving the light gratin from France. In fact, Saturday night’s heavy-handed adventures with cauliflower made me want the light version even more! Luckily I still had a half of a large head of cauliflower in my fridge. Sunday night’s dinner would offer me a second chance to crack the Gratin code-only this time I would trust my instincts and not follow anyone else’s directions.

I began by caramelizing some onions and used them as a base for the gratin. I added the cauliflower- chopped in a small chop-some cream, cayenne and a smattering of both Parmesan and Gruyere. I popped it in the oven for 45 minutes and served it with steak and a salad. It was as I hoped- comforting but not heavy. We all loved it. This batch certainly did not get tossed. There was nothing left to toss!

Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Gratin
Serves 6

½ a large head of Cauliflower (about 2 lbs), chopped in a small chop
2 medium-large onions
½ t cayenne
2/3 c heavy cream
1/3 c Parmesan, grated
1/3 c Gruyere, grated
Sea salt/pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut the onions in half- don’t bother to peel them. Drizzle olive oil over the cut sides and place them, cut side down in a metal baking pan. Roast for 45 minutes, or until caramelized and soft. Remove the onions and reduce the oven temperature to 375.

Let onions cool for 15 or 20 minutes before handling. Peel the outer skin off and discard. Chop the onion and place at the bottom of a 13”x 9” casserole.

Cover the onions with the chopped cauliflower. Sprinkle the cayenne over the cauliflower and the drizzle the heavy cream over the mixture. Top with both cheeses. Season with salt and pepper. (May be made ahead to this point.)

Bake at 375 oven for 35-45 minutes, until bubbling and top is golden brown.

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One Comment

  1. Miquele
    Posted October 12, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Yeah! I’m so glad this recipe is on your blog! It was delicious and light. Can’t wait to make it.

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