With gusto, I let fall into my home. I'm not talking about pumpkins or mums, either. I'm talking about the breeze.
I’m rarely home alone but when I am I take advantage of it. This time, I threw open all of the windows and let the breeze rip through the house. There are only two times of the year that allow you to do this at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, and fall is one of them (Spring is the other; summer is far too hot and winter far too cold). I put Elephant Revival on and turned the volume up high as if to drown out other noise, even though the house was silent. I threw my hair into a messy bun on the top of my head (or tried— half of my hairs fell out, and I didn’t bother putting them into place), and I whipped out the pots and pans.
It was going to be a good afternoon: I had cheese to melt.
Even though cauliflower is a fall crop, I abuse the fact that modern grocery stores carry it all year around. I can't lie about this with over 19 recipes using cauliflower on this blog, and almost none of them fall-related.
This cauliflower gratin is rich and hits your "I really just want cheese for dinner" spot, but feels a little more grown up because 1) you're eating vegetables and 2) the cheese is gruyere, which I almost can't say out loud without second guessing myself (groo-year? gru-air?). There's even a little thyme stirred in.
It pairs well with a glass of red wine, a cold beer, or a dry cider. Fancy enough for something like Thanksgiving dinner, you could cook this cauliflower gratin up for party. But best of all, you can just reheat it as a lazy couch dinner.
I hope you'll invite fall into your home like I did: it will come out bubbling and strings of cheese will follow as you serve yourself the first bite. Maybe, if it's cool enough, you can get away with wearing your slippers, too.
Serves: 8 | Total Time: 60 minutes
- 2 pounds cauliflower florets
- Water, for steaming
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons corn starch or arrowroot powder
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1-1/2 cup shredded gruyere, divided
- 1/2 cup parmesan
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Dash cayenne
- Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
- Fill a medium pot with 1 inch of water and place steam basket in pot. Place cauliflower in steam basket, and heat over medium heat until water is simmering. Allow cauliflower to steam for 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat. Drain any water from cauliflower, and then put cauliflower in a 8x8inch baking dish.
- Now, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter. While the butter melts, whisk together the milk and corn starch or arrowroot powder until no clumps remain. Pour milk into melted butter and whisk. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly so as not to scald the milk, for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of gruyere cheese. Continue to whisk and simmer until sauce thickens (it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon), and cheese is fully incorporated. Remove from heat.
- Stir thyme, black pepper, salt, nutmeg, and cayenne into cheese sauce. Pour cheese sauce over cauliflower and use a spoon to ensure the cauliflower is all coated and the sauce is distributed.
- Top with remaining gruyere and the parmesan. Place in oven, and bake for 35-45 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and top is golden brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.