Dinner Tonight: Cauliflower Gratin

With half the continental U.S. blanketed in snow, maybe some of us are looking for a little comfort food. Something warm, tasty, and possibly cheesy? Macaroni and cheese is what initially came to my mind, but when I had a look at this Ina Garten recipe for a pretty straightforward cauliflower gratin, I realized that that's basically what this is. Switch out the pasta for chunks of cauliflower, which in this recipe are covered with a cheesy bechamel (aka Mornay sauce) before baking, and you're pretty close to macaroni and cheese. And it's a touch healthier—though it's all relative when you're talking about handfuls of cheese and butter.

No secrets to this recipe, really; a nice touch of nutmeg in the bechamel brings a distinct fragrance, but it's otherwise the traditional Parmesan and Gruyère combination and a crispy skin of bread crumbs and more cheese. Cauliflower takes particularly well to the gratin treatment. If you wanted to turn it into a main course with more protein, some chopped ham would fit in quite nicely.

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. He is currently living for the year in Tartu, Estonia.

Loading text goes here What's This? OK

Dinner Tonight: Cauliflower Gratin

About This Recipe



  • 1 3-pound head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 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 grated Gruyère, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs


  1. 1

    Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bring a large pot of salty water to boil. Boil the cauliflower florets until beginning to soften, but farm from tender, about 5 minutes.

  2. 2

    In the meantime, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sauce pan, then stir in the flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often and removing any lumps. Add the warm milk (little by little at first), whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture thickens, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper, 1/2 cup of each cheese, and nutmeg. Stir well to incorporate.

  3. 3

    Pour 1/3 of the sauce into an 8 x 11 inch baking dish, then add the cauliflower pieces. Cover with the remaining sauce, then top with a mixture of the bread crumbs and remaining Gruyère. Melt the remaining two tablespoons butter and drizzle over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is browned. Hit it with a broiler to really crisp it up.


Add a rating with your comment:

Comments can take up to a minute to appear - please be patient!

Previewing your comment: