I hate to bring up the “T” word already since it’s not even Halloween. BUT in case you haven’t noticed, Thanksgiving is FOUR weeks away! That’s only four weeks to plan your meal, revise your meal plan five times (or maybe that’s just me), make multiple grocery (and liquor store) store runs, and cook a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner.
While the turkey, stuffing, and sweet potato dishes are no-brainers for me, I like to switch things up when it comes to veggie sides. Enter: White Cheddar Cauliflower Gratin.
I made this for a dinner with friends where I was testing Thanksgiving recipes. I think it’s safe to say this White Cheddar Cauliflower Gratin was the star of the show. Well, aside from the pie. I mean, you can’t compete with pie. But this gratin. This cheesy, creamy, crunchy topped gratin. It gives vegetables a chance against pie.
Going into creating this White Cheddar Cauliflower Gratin, I knew I wanted three main things: a buttery breadcrumb topping, a creamy but not greasy cheese sauce, and non-mushy cauliflower.
How To Make The Perfect White Cheddar Cauliflower Gratin
The breadcrumb topping? Easy. Butter + breadcrumbs + Parmesan cheese = heaven.
Creamy but not greasy cheese sauce? Half cream and half milk with (gasp!) not too much cheese.
Non-mushy cauliflower? Now that part was a bit trickier. I felt that if I attempted to par-boil the cauliflower before baking it with the cheese sauce, I ran the risk of over-cooking it too easily. So I roasted it for just 20 minutes it before mixing it with the cheese sauce and it worked out beautifully. Perfectly softened and not overcooked cauliflower with a depth of flavor from roasting.
All together? Perfection. So while it might be early to start thinking about Thanksgiving, it’s not *too* early to start thinking about it. This is one dish you’re going to want on that menu!
- 1 head of cauliflower florets cut from stalk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 shallots finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons butter melted
- Extra sage leaves for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Toss cauliflower florets in olive oil and place on baking sheet.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast in oven for 20 minutes.
- In medium skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.
- Add shallots and cook for 5-7 minutes, until softened.
- Add garlic and cook another minute.
- Add flour, and stir well with shallots and garlic.
- Cook 1 minute.
- Slowly add cream followed by milk, stirring constantly.
- Season with sage, nutmeg and salt and stir well to combine.
- Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 20 minutes, until thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheese, stirring until melted.
- Place roasted cauliflower in 9" baking dish. I used a 9" cast-iron skillet, but any similar size will work.
- Pour cheese sauce over cauliflower evenly.
- Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and butter, then sprinkle over baking dish.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until breadcrumbs are golden.
- Optional: fry the sage leaves in oil. Do this by heating ~2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the sage leaves and fry for 15-20 seconds, until they turn dark green. Remove from skillet immediately.
- Top gratin with fried sage.