Cavolfiore al gratin (Gratinéed Cauliflower)

Cavolfiore al gratin

There’s something so comforting about creamy gratins. Who wouldn’t go for that bubbly, cheesy, warming goodness?

Gratinéed cauliflower is not exclusively Italian, of course—the Brits have their Cauliflower Cheese and the French their chou-fleur au gratin— but I think it is particularly nice made with Italian cheeses like Parmesan and fontina. It makes for a rich side dish with simply roasted meats or, especially if you add the optional ham and extra cheese, can serve as a (mostly) vegetarian main course, just as satisfying as any meat dish would be.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6 as a side dish, 2 as a main course

  • 1 head of cauliflower, separated into flowerets
  • 500 ml (2 cups) thick béchamel sauce
  • 75-100g (3-4 oz) grated Parmesan cheese, plus some more for topping
  • Butter, q.b.

Optional:

  • 100 g (4 oz) fontina, Emmenthal, raclette or other meltable cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 100g (4 oz) of cooked ham or prosciutto, cut into small cubes

Directions

Steam the cauliflower flowerets until they are just tender, with still some ‘bite’ left in them.

While the cauliflower is steaming, make the béchamel and, when it’s done, mix in the grated Parmesan cheese.

Butter a baking dish large enough to hold all the flowerets very generously. Arrange the cauliflower in the dish, nestling the cubed fontina and/or cooked ham among the flowerets if using. Pour over the béchamel, taking care to cover everything. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and dot with butter.

Bake in a moderate oven (180C/350F) for a good 20-30 minutes, until the dish is bubbling and the top is nicely browned.

Remove the dish from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes

For the extra cheese, fontina would be a lovely choice, but if you can’t find imported fontina (it’s rather hard to find, for some reason) then another meltable Alpine cheese like Emmenthal, Appenzeller, raclette or perhaps a Comté, would be very fine choices indeed.

Cavolfiore al gratin (Gratinéed Cauliflower)

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6 as a side dish, 2 as a main course

Cavolfiore al gratin (Gratinéed Cauliflower)

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower, separated into flowerets
  • 500 ml (2 cups) thick béchamel sauce
  • 75-100g (3-4 oz) grated Parmesan cheese, plus some more for topping
  • Butter, q.b.
  • Optional:
  • 100 g (4 oz) fontina, Emmenthal, raclette or other meltable cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 100g (4 oz) of cooked ham or prosciutto, cut into small cubes

Directions

  1. Steam the cauliflower flowerets until they are just tender, with still some 'bite' left in them.
  2. While the cauliflower is steaming, make the béchamel and, when it's done, mix in the grated Parmesan cheese.
  3. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold all the flowerets very generously. Arrange the cauliflower in the dish, nestling the cubed fontina and/or cooked ham among the flowerets if using. Pour over the béchamel, taking care to cover everything. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and dot with butter.
  4. Bake in a moderate oven (180C/350F) for a good 20-30 minutes, until the dish is bubbling and the top is nicely browned.
  5. Remove the dish from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

For our recipe for making béchamel sauce, visit: http://memoriediangelina.com/2010/02/08/how-to-make-bechamel-sauce

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26 Responses to “Cavolfiore al gratin (Gratinéed Cauliflower)”

  1. 9 February 2014 at 02:04 #

    Olá eu amo os gratinados e este é muito bom.

  2. 7 February 2014 at 15:56 #

    My mouth is watering! I love cauliflower and this reminds me of something my mom when when I was a kid.

  3. 6 February 2014 at 02:50 #

    I have a head of cauliflower in the fridge right now moaning, ‘please use me.’ This is just a perfect marriage of need and deliciousness. And bonus: our local cheese shop has some excellent fontina! Plus – it’s comforting. Minnesota winters demand comfort in the kitchen.

    • 7 February 2014 at 12:51 #

      You’re so lucky to have ready access to fontina, Claudia!

  4. 4 February 2014 at 11:10 #

    If you ask me, anything that contains fontina is memorable; and I am also a true lover of cauliflower.

    • 7 February 2014 at 12:50 #

      A match that was truly made in heaven.

  5. 3 February 2014 at 20:39 #

    This sounds amazing! I love how it only calls for 3 ingredients and it looks fabulous. We are definitely going to try this!

    • 7 February 2014 at 12:50 #

      Awesome, Alessandra!

  6. 3 February 2014 at 06:01 #

    Fontina is one of those foods that I sort of took for granted until I moved to the US. I had it often as a child and it is readily available in stores in Italy. I wonder what hinders its diffusion elsewhere, considering its excellent qualities. Lovely gratin, Frank, using one of my favorite vegetables.

    • 7 February 2014 at 12:49 #

      Thanks, Simona! This fontina shortage has to stop. We should start a petition on whitehouse.gov!

  7. 2 February 2014 at 19:49 #

    I have some fontina looking for a home, and I know it would taste great in this recipe.

    • 7 February 2014 at 12:48 #

      Fontina makes anything taste good!

  8. 2 February 2014 at 18:00 #

    Un delizioso piatto unico che rende onore al cavolfiore, troppo spesso bistrattato… buona settimana Frank !

    • 7 February 2014 at 12:48 #

      A presto, Chiara!

  9. 2 February 2014 at 16:30 #

    I am such a fan of cauliflower in the cool months. I’ve made it a zillion ways including one with a gorgonzola cream sauce a few weeks ago… this is a lovely recipe, Frank. Simple and delicious.

    • 7 February 2014 at 12:47 #

      Thanks, Deana! I like the idea of the gorgonzola cheese sauce…

  10. 2 February 2014 at 15:46 #

    Beautiful, Frank! And so tempting. I’m with you on the Italian Fontina. It melts so nicely, and why it is not sold more widely, I do not understand. I can find it here in Los Angeles only at specialty cheese shops. Buona domenica a te!

    • 7 February 2014 at 12:46 #

      We’ll have to start a petition to get fontina into more stores—and not the imitation Danish variety, either!

  11. Susan
    2 February 2014 at 15:24 #

    I have found that Compte works fantastically with this dish (I used Emmenthal for years until I decided to try Compte)…and it makes a wonderful gratin crust (better than Parmesan IMHO) so what I usually do is use Parmesan in the bechamel and top the dish with a generous layer of grated Compte. The combination of the 2 cheeses is divine. I also find that a sprinkling of breadcrumbs on top makes a particularly crispy gratin crust, if this is the effect you’re looking for

    Anything gratineed qualifies as comfort food in my book :-) Thanks for sharing.

    • 7 February 2014 at 12:46 #

      Thanks for stopping by, Sue!

  12. 2 February 2014 at 14:48 #

    Yummy, just had it for lunch!

    • 7 February 2014 at 12:45 #

      Wow, what a coincidence! Great minds think alike, I guess…

  13. 2 February 2014 at 14:48 #

    This just looks fabulous, Frank! Thank you. I’m pinning it to save for later.

    • 7 February 2014 at 12:44 #

      That’s great, Kathy. Do let us know how you like it.

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