The weather has been unpredictable in our side of San Francisco the past few months and what we’re in the mood for is constantly changing. One day it’s 70 degrees and sunny and the next day it’s 50 degrees and drizzling. More often the latter. We made this cauliflower gratin a few weeks ago on a chilly evening and it was perfection. We think it may be the best way to use cauliflower, and it’s a dish that will be perfect for fall. We loved it so much, it may make an appearance on our holiday menus!
We don’t think cauliflower is anyone’s favorite vegetable, but baked into a creamy cheese sauce, it’s amazing. We had a bottle of Erste e Neue wine from the Alto Adige on hand and it inspired us to take our cauliflower gratin in a Northern Italian direction. We used a rich fontina cheese for the sauce, and threw in some thinly sliced speck for good measure. Who doesn’t like ham and cheese on a foggy and chilly evening?
We boiled our cauliflower prior to adding it to the gratin. It turned out great, but next time we might experiment with roasting it. The cheese mixture couldn’t be easier, just whisk together milk or cream and eggs, then add a little flour and freshly grated cheese.
The result was one of the best cauliflower recipes, and the wine pairing was spot-on. We baked and served it in our Mauviel gratin pan (c/o), which was a great addition to our kitchen. It’s pretty enough to go straight from the oven to the tabletop. We’ve been using it a lot and things don’t really stick to it either, so cleanup is a breeze. On weeknights we like to use these stemless Riedel wine glasses since they are dishwasher safe to minimize the amount of handwashing we have to do (red wine version here).
We served the gratin with a wooden spoon, so as to not scratch the pan, and used these plates to add a pop of color.
If you’re interested in Italian wine, this book is a great introduction. It’s one of the first Italian books we bought and it gives a great overview of the different regions.
- One head of Cauliflower
- 2 ounces of speck, sliced thinly
- 5 eggs
- ¼ cup flour
- 1½ cups half and half
- Freshly ground pepper
- 4 oz fontina cheese, grated on a coarse grater
- Break cauliflower into small pieces, about ½" - ¾" thick. Don't use the thick inner stem, just add it to your compost pile.
- Salt a pot of water and bring it to a boil, then add the cauliflower pieces to the boiling water and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until just fork tender. Drain and reserve.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, flour, half and half, cheese, ham a pinch of salt (don't add too much since the cheese is salty), and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.
- Add the drained cauliflower to the bowl and toss to combine, then pour the entire mixture into a buttered gratin dish.
- Bake 25-30 minutes at 400°F until the egg mixture sets. When it is done it won't jiggle if you shake the pan, and a toothpick or cake tester should come out clean.
Thank you to Mauviel for partnering on this post.