This is an easy and reliable recipe, with a killer cheese sauce that you can use for a variety of things, including mac & cheese. You can also use different veggies for this, but the cauliflower works really well. For vegans, you can use coconut oil or vegan butter instead of the butter, and any plant-based milk and cheese…and maybe some nutritional yeast! For a gluten-free option, brown rice or arrowroot flours can be used instead of the all-purpose flour.
3 lb cauliflower (1 large head), cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch florets
½ bunch kale, stems removed and leaves sliced into ½-inch ribbons
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6 oz sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (2 cups)
1/2 cup finely chopped scallion greens
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
20 (2-inch) square saltine crackers, or about 2 cups of panko or other breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish and set aside.
- Cook cauliflower in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the kale to the pot and stir well. Drain cauliflower and kale well in a colander and transfer to baking dish.
- While cauliflower cooks, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a slow stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese, scallion greens, salt, and pepper, whisking until cheese is melted. Pour cheese sauce over vegetables and stir gently to combine.
- Coarsely crumble crackers or pour panko into a bowl. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Pour over crumbs and toss to coat.
- Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over cauliflower. Bake gratin until topping is golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!