Cauliflower Gratin with Blue Cheese


Roasted cauliflower is sensational, and this recipe gives you plenty of options.
TIME 30 minutes
MAKES 4 servings
1 medium cauliflower (about 1½ pounds)
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
½ cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh


Method
1 Heat the oven to 425°F. Trim the outer leaves from the cauliflower and cut the florets from the core. It’s okay if they’re not all perfectly separated, but you want them about 1 inch across, so cut through some if necessary.

2 Put the garlic on the cutting board and hold a chef’s knife above them, parallel. Press down lightly to crush the garlic a bit; remove the peel and trim the flat end.

3 Put the cauliflower in a large gratin dish; drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the cauliflower with the oil and spread it out in an even layer. Nestle the garlic among the cauliflower florets and transfer the dish to the oven; cook until the florets are beginning to turn brown and the stems are crisp-tender (you’ll be able to pierce them with a thin-bladed knife, but they’ll offer some resistance), 10 to 15 minutes.

4 Remove the dish from the oven and remove and discard the garlic. Sprinkle the blue cheese evenly on top of the cauliflower, then sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Put the dish back in the oven and cook until the cheese is bubbling and the bread crumbs are golden brown, another 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Variations
  • Broccoli Gratin with Parmesan: Use broccoli florets instead of cauliflower and substitute grated Parmesan for the blue cheese.

Tips
  • A gratin is anything—sliced, chopped, or whole vegetables, but also noodles, fish, whatever—usually with a topping, baked or broiled until nicely browned. To save a step you can precook the cauliflower right in the baking dish (as I do here), but you can also steam, boil, grill, broil, or pan-cook vegetables before turning them into gratins. (Or use leftovers, for sure.)
  • Some other vegetable ideas: sturdy greens like cabbage, chard, or kale; broccoli; winter squash; potatoes or sweet potatoes; celery or fennel.
  • Adding smashed garlic cloves to vegetables while they cook (and then removing them before serving) infuses vegetables with a hint of garlic without overwhelming them.

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