Cauliflower Gratin

November 4, 2007


Paris: Day 2
The béchamel for this lovely gratin is made with butter and olive oil—very Mediterranean. SAM & HARRY

1 medium cauliflower (2 pounds)
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cold milk
2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon unseasoned breadcrumbs, divided
Freshly ground nutmeg, sea salt, and white pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a shallow, 1-quart casserole and set aside.

Trim the cauliflower and separate into florets. Place in the basket of a steamer pan over 1 inch of boiling water, sprinkle with lemon juice, cover, and steam for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente. Set aside.

In a small sauté pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter, whisking until lightly browned. Add 3 tablespoons of oil and whisk until hot. Add the flour all at once and whisk until slightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the milk all at once and whisk until the béchamel is smooth and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower, béchamel, cheese, and 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Turn into the prepared casserole, top with the remaining 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and bake for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Makes 2 main or 4 side servings.