I don’t mean to call him out here, but after my husband discovered this au gratin dish left cooling on the countertop, he literally looked like the cat that got the cream.
Backstory: he grew a beard a little over a year ago. I had been begging him to do it for at least 10 years, and while we were away in Spain he finally bit the bullet and laid down the razor for good. I’ve been over the moon ever since, and as an avowed beard-lover, I think it suits him. He’s a big guy, and the beard just adds to the whole Paul Bunyan-ness. It works.
But it was this Cauliflower and Sage au Gratin that brought me to truly understand the awesomeness of his having a beard – it’s so I can catch him in the act. He ate this straight out of the pan with a fork, standing over the counter, and when I finally glanced up and asked him if there was any left for me, he gave me a wide-eyed look, bits of cauliflower and cream flecking the beard, and slowly shook his head. This cauliflower au gratin was so mellow and creamy and cheesy and good that it caused him to completely lose his good table manners, if only for a minute.
I’ll call that a success.
One week until Thanksgiving!
Cauliflower and Sage au Gratin Recipe
- 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 12-14 fresh sage leaves
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs (best if you make yourself; otherwise I recommend panko crumbs for the crispiness)
- Preheat the oven to 375*F. Place the cauliflower in an ovenproof pan and drizzle with the olive oil, then sprinkle with salt. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower has browned to a deep nutty color on top.
- While the cauliflower is in the oven, chiffonade 4 sage leaves (ie slice into thin ribbons). Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the sage and garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the cream and stir to combine. Add the nutmeg and take the cream off the heat, allowing to to steep.
- Remove the cauliflower head from the oven and turn the head up to 400*F.
- Carefully, because it is still hot, slice the cauliflower into thin “steaks”. Layer an 8″x8″ baking pan with parchment paper or tin foil and arrange the cauliflower in one layer. Scatter half of the leftover sage leaves on top, then add another layer of sliced cauliflower. Top this with the rest of the sage leaves.
- Pour the cream mixture evenly on top, making sure the cream gets down into any crevices. Top evenly with the parmesan cheese, then the breadcrumbs, and slide back into the oven for 18 minutes.
- After the au gratin has baked, broil for a further 2 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs have browed fully. Remove from the oven and serve hot.
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