Thursday, December 13, 2012

Purple Cauliflower Gratin

They say the more colorful your food is, the better it is for you. I truly love just about anything made with cauliflower (especially fried... not pretending that preparation is good for you by any means). As part of my winter CSA I have been really enjoying checking out some delicious local, seasonal produce.

Recently we were graced with a gorgeous purple cauliflower. Although I've seen these and their many counterparts (such as yellow and Romanesco) in the past, this was my first time playing with colorful cauliflower in my own kitchen.

I love cauliflower puree and think it's a nice alternative to mashed potatoes. Definitely healthier and less starchy. I liked the idea of creating a puree with the purple cauliflower, and then taking it a step further by topping it with a delicious crust and baking it in the oven. Adding some nice Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese added a decadent note to the final product. It was slightly cheesy, super creamy, with a nice crunch to finish it off.

It's a great way to sneak colorful veggies into your family's diet. Purple is an uncommon color to see on one's plate, which is why this is particularly fun to try out. The same recipe can be made using a traditional cauliflower, but it will lack some of the fun in eating it!

Purple Cauliflower Gratin
Serves 2 to 4 as a side dish

1 medium purple cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed and cut into florets
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, bring a few inches of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the cauliflower and garlic cloves. When the water comes back up to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender (a fork should pierce the thickest stems very easily). Alternatively, steam the cauliflower and garlic in a steamer basket until very tender.

Strain the cauliflower and garlic and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add the milk, cheese, and butter and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper as desired and mix again until combined.

Transfer the mixture to a small baking dish (about 2 to 2 1/2 cup capacity). Stir together the panko and the olive oil and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the cauliflower puree.

Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. If desired, finish browning the top under the broiler for an additional minute or two after it bakes to give it extra color.


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