Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gratin de chou-fleur {Cauliflower casserole}

A few months ago I read the book, French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon. You can read my brief review here. I took a lot away from the book and even made a few changes in the way we deal with meals in our household. My kids are pretty good about eating their meals, I think I'm blessed with good eaters. We've tried to cut back on the snacking a bit though, after all it's okay to feel hungry when meal time rolls around. Of course we also need that little pick me up in the afternoon and when the appropriate foods are served, snacks can give us the fuel and energy we need.

So I did say in my review if there were any recipes I'd ever like to try this particular cauliflower casserole would be one. I love cauliflower, mostly raw with a little bit of ranch dip. I admit I haven't always been the best veggie eater especially when they're cooked. I prefer most of them in the raw state, I love crunchy textures.

With a head of cauliflower sitting in the fridge from our CSA, this dish popped in my mind. In fact I whipped it up quickly for lunch to serve to the daycare kiddos, and we all know when trying to cook for young children you don't often have much time. We all really enjoyed every part of it. The cauliflower was soft and tender and not mushy, like we often associate with cooked vegetables. My favorite part was the crunchy panko crumb and Parmesan topping. I even mixed my portion in with the grilled chicken and pasta we served alongside. Total comfort food without being too heavy.

Cauliflower Casserole

1 cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 stick butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Set a medium sized pot of water on the stove to boil and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once water is boiling, add chopped cauliflower to the pan, reduce heat a bit and let cook for five minutes.

In another small pan, melt butter. Sprinkle in flour and stir well until flour is absorbed, raise heat to high and let cook for 30 seconds. Add in milk, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make topping, combine breadcrumbs and cheese into a small bowl. To assemble dish, drain cauliflower and place into a medium sized, lightly greased casserole dish. Pour white bechamel sauce over top. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until top is golden brown.

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