As much as I love vegetables (and I do), I admit there's no better way to eat them than when they're bubbling in hot cream and covered in melted cheese. Vegetables have for so long been the healthy thing that has to fill that corner of your plate to make a meal wholesome. When they're decadent, the meal takes on a special kind of indulgence.
I love cauliflower gratin, and this is my streamlined broccoli version. Baking the vegetables in crème fraîche, which doesn't separate in the heat of the oven, means you don't have to bother making a béchamel. The crème fraîche melts, and the cheese melts into it, without separating, so you have all the function of a béchamel, without the bother, and the whole gratin comes out lighter. Simply toss blanched broccoli with créme fraîche and grated Gruyère, then top it with more cheese and panko. The sauce pools and melts and cooks inside the little florets of the broccoli, and the top gets gooey and crispy. I could sit down and eat a whole plate of it myself. You may want to double the recipe—especially if I'm invited!
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 1/3 cup crème fraîche
- 1 cup grated Gruyère
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoon panko
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Blanch the broccoli in salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain.
Toss the broccoli with the cream fraîche, three quarters of the cheese, and salt and pepper. Spoon the broccoli mixture into a greased baking dish. Top with the panko, and the remaining cheese. Bake until the top is golden and bubbling—30 to 35 minutes.