Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cauliflower – Brussel Sprout Gratin

My kids love brussel sprouts and cauliflower. It’s my wife’s fault. I take no claim to such strange behavior. I like them, but not enough to go crazy over them. Because I tend to dote on my little mutants, though, I cook brussel sprouts and cauliflower from time to time.

A few weeks ago, I found myself with a small head of cauliflower and about a pound of brussel sprouts that needed to be used. Not enough of either one for a proper dish, but combined … well, I just might have something. What about a vegetable gratin? I think the results were tasty, and my family certainly enjoyed them enough that there weren’t any leftovers.

This dish uses frozen brussel sprouts because I can’t often get fresh ones at my local grocer. If you use fresh ones, par-boil them before using in the recipe.

Equipment Needed
Cutting board
Small saucepanFood processor or blender
Dutch oven or other large pot
12-inch SkilletWhisk
Glass baking dish
Garlic press (optional)
Rasp grater or micro-plane
Paring knife
1 small head cauliflower
1 pound frozen brussel sprouts
1/2 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
4 Tbl butter
4 slices quality sandwich bread
1 Tbl all-purpose flour
1 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup milk
1 /2 tsp dried thyme
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and ground black pepper

Remove the leaves and core of the cauliflower and cut into florets the same size as the brussel sprouts to promote even cooking, about 1-inch pieces. Peel and mince the onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Grate the cheese with a small rasp grater or micro-plane. Remove the brussel sprouts from the freezer and set aside. Par boil them if using fresh ones.

Placing a cooking rack in the center position, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the Crumb Topping
You can use already made bread crumbs if you want, but making them fresh isn’t hard and give great results.

Melt 2 Tbl butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Put the bread slices into a food processor, along with the melted butter 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper. Pulse about times to create bread crumbs and combine. Set aside.

For the Vegetables
Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large cooking pot or Dutch oven. Add 1 Tbl salt. Add the caulflower florets to the water and boil until most tender, about 4 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process, and let drain fully.

For the sauce
Melt the remaining 2 Tbl butter in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook an addition 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the flour to coat. Whisk in the yoghurt and milk and bring the whole to a boil. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, thyme, nutmeg, cayenne, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper. Remove from the heat.

Gently stir the cauliflower and brussel sprouts into the yoghurt mixture. Transfer to a 9 x 9 inch, or other medium sized baking dish. Spring the top evenly with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and the bread crumb mixture. Bake until golden brown with the sauce bubbling around the edges, about 12 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

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