Warning: These vegetables may become addictive. That’s what happens when you combine them with creamy goat cheese, salty parmesan and buttery fontina and bake to bubbly perfection, as in this Three Cheese Cauliflower Gratin. The flavor combo really hits the spot, and it makes a delicious side for a holiday dinner. It’s also great way to get kids, both young and old, to eat their vegetables.
I played around with various cheeses to make this cauliflower gratin, and you know, it’s cheese – how bad could it ever really be? Using sharp cheddar in place of the fontina is yummy but tends to overshadow the other flavors – but if you love cheddar, by all means use it. And cream cheese is always a good stand-in for goat cheese, so feel free to swap it in. But what I really loved about the combo of fontina, parmesan and goat is the subtle tanginess it lends to the mild cauliflower. It just tastes… special.
The method for this cauliflower gratin starts much like how you’d make a macaroni and cheese casserole. You’ll use flour and butter to make a roux, and then add your milk, cream and cheeses. Pretty standard. The key here, as with most vegetable dishes, is to make sure your cauliflower is squeezed as dry as possible. Cauliflower will give off moisture as it bakes, so try to start with as little moisture as you can. You’re also going to want to leave enough time that you can allow the dish to rest for 20-30 minutes before serving in order for the cheese mixture to completely set.
The quantities here make a generous 9×13 baking dish worth – because I love it as a holiday side and it needs to feed plenty. Feel free to half the recipe and use an 8×8 dish if you have a smaller group to feed.
I hope everyone has fun eating their vegetables! Enjoy!
- 2 heads of cauliflower
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp. flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 12 oz. fontina cheese, shredded
- 12 oz. goat cheese, crumbled into pieces
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash and dry the cauliflower heads. Cut into bite-sized florets and place in a large, microwave safe bowl. Fill the bowl with water until the cauliflower is 3/4 of the way covered with water. Cover the bowl with a paper towel and microwave on high in 5-minute increments, until the cauliflower is al dente. Drain and dry with paper towels. Squeeze as much moisture out as possible. Place cauliflower in a 9×13 baking dish on top of a metal baking sheet (to catch any drips).
In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture starts to bubble. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the milk and cream and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking occasionally. Lower the heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add goat cheese, fontina cheese and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese. Mix together until cheese is melted. Pour cheese mixture over the cauliflower. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese over top.
Bake for 55-60 minutes or until top is bubbly and golden brown. Let rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.