Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin with Crispy Panko Topping

This crowd-pleasing, comforting gratin features a mix of pungent cheeses that pair well with the mild sweetness of the cauliflower. Butter richens the flavor and the golden, crunchy topping offers the perfect textural contrast to its creamy, saucy filling. For the cheese sauce, start with warm milk to help it thicken quickly. Cook the sauce over medium heat, stirring constantly, and remove it from the heat immediately once it’s thickened. The flour will help stabilize the sauce but heating it too long or heating it to a boil will cause the sauce to separate or curdle. This hearty side makes a nice accompaniment to roasted pork, turkey or chicken.

Ingredients

Cauliflower: 3 pounds

Gruyère Cheese: 2 oz, shredded (about 1/2 cup

Grated Pecorino Cheese: ¼ cup

Shredded Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese: ½ cup

Panko Breadcrumbs: ½ cup

Kosher Salt: 1½ tsp, divided

Unsalted Butter: 2 tbsp

All-Purpose Flour: 2 tbsp

Low-Fat Milk: 1 cup, warmed

Minced Garlic: 2 tsp

Ground Nutmeg: 1 pinch

Fresh Parsley: 2 tbsp, chopped

Spray Oil: 2 sprays

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a large 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add cauliflower and cook until fork tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Drain well; set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss together panko, Pecorino and 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside.
  4. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add flour and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in warm milk until thick and smooth; stir in Gruyere, mozzarella, garlic, remaining teaspoon salt and nutmeg.
  5. Spoon cauliflower into prepared pan and pour cheese sauce over top; toss until well-mixed and then sprinkle with panko mixture. Bake until panko begins to brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve garnished with parsley. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.

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