The fall has to be my favorite season to be in the kitchen. I don’t know if it’s because so many of my favorite foods are in season; squash, apples, pumpkin and of course cauliflower. Or if it’s because my oven always seems to be on and something warm and delicious is on its way. Either way, the fall seems to always have my oven working on overdrive. Baking breads, muffins, lasagnas, roasting veggies, or one of my new favorites; making gratins.
Gratin ANYTHING wins me over. But when you make a gratin with one of my favorite vegetables, like this cauliflower gratin, I simply can not resist.
Cauliflower is the perfect vegetable for a gratin recipe. Its mellow, slightly sweet, flavor profile pairs perfectly with the salty nutty parmesan, shallots and herb de provence. Plus its texture holds up great when baked so the result is a dish that’s creamy AND crunchy.
I baked this gratin using my lodge cast iron skillet and loved how it turned out. The shallow edges along the side allowed the crunchy top to get golden brown, while the thick hearty bottom was able to withstand a really high heat and cook the cauliflower evenly. You could really use any type of baking dish for this recipes (and I tried a few), but my favorite by far was the cast iron skillet.
This cauliflower grain would make a great side dish for any upcoming holiday entertaining as well. Perfect for Thanksgiving. It can not only be prepared in advance (you could easily make the gratin a day or two in advance and then just bake before serving), but it’s also a gorgeous dish. And who doesn’t love anything smothered in cheese and breadcrumbs? I certainly do!
Our family was crazy about how this recipe turned out, and I hope yours will be too!
For other cauliflower inspiration, be sure to check out my favorite cauliflower curry recipe!
- 1 head of cauliflower, sliced in ½" segments
- 1-2 large shallots, sliced into ringlets
- ¾ cup of heavy whipping cream
- 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp of salt
- ½ tsp of freshly grated black pepper
- 1 tbsp of herbs de provence (divided into two)
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup of panko bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 4-6 sprigs of thyme
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- In a small sauce pan, place ¾ cup of heavy cream, salt, pepper, 1 tsp of herbs de provence, and 4 large cloves of chopped garlic. Heat over low heat and let the milk steep for about 10 minutes
- Meanwhile, prepare the cauliflower. Using a whole head of cauliflower, cut the entire cauliflower in half. Then working with each half, make "strips" of cauliflower about ½" think (I like to slice the cauliflower almost like I'm slicing a loaf of bread, working along the shorter side of each half). It doesn't have to be perfect though, you just want "slices" of cauliflower, versus pieces because it makes layering easier.
- Then being to prepare the gratin. Lightly grease an oven safe baking dish or pan (I like to use my lodge cast iron pan for this) with a tbsp of olive oil. Then add your first layer of cauliflower slices. Do your best to create a nice even layer (but it doesn't have to be perfect). Next drizzle on about a ¼ cup of the garlic/cream mixture. then top the cauliflower layer with a generous amount of shallots, and about ¼ cup of parmesan.
- Then add a second layer of cauliflower. Repeat with a drizzle of garlic cream, shallots, and parmesan.
- If possible, add a third layer (depending on how deep your dish is, or how thick your cauliflower is, you may only be able to create two layers).
- To finish the gratin, melt 2 tbsp of butter in a small bowl. Next add the remaining 1 tsp of herbs de provence, the panko bread crumbs and the last ¼ cup of parmesan. Mix together.
- Add the panko topping directly onto the top layer of cauliflower. Sprinkle with a few sprigs of thyme.
- Cover the gratin with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the foil after 15 minutes, and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the gratin is bubbly and golden brown.
- To serve, garnish with a sprinkle of herbs de provence, and a few sprigs of thyme. Serve and enjoy!