Modern Cauliflower Gratin
Why This Recipe Works
To create a cauliflower gratin that was rich and flavorful without the heft, we relied on cauliflower’s natural ability to become an ultracreamy puree, using it as a sauce to bind the florets together. To ensure that we had enough cauliflower to use in two ways, we used two heads. We removed the cores and stems and steamed these until soft; we then blended them to make the sauce. We cut the florets into slabs, which made for a more compact casserole and helped them cook more evenly. For a streamlined, efficient cooking setup, we placed the cauliflower cores and stems in water in the bottom of a Dutch oven and set our steamer basket filled with florets right on top. Butter and Parmesan (plus a little cornstarch) gave the sauce a richer flavor and texture without making it too heavy, and a few pantry spices lent some complexity. Tossing the florets in the sauce before placing them in the dish ensured that they were completely coated. Topping the gratin with Parmesan and panko gave it savory crunch, and a final garnish of minced chives added color.