Creamy Cauliflower Gratin ♥

Oh. My. Goodness. What a little cream and cheese won't do for vegetables. I've raved over cauliflower before, it's a favorite low-carb, low-calorie vegetable. But add some carbs and calories ... Did I say that this is really really good? It is.

But the real trick with this cauliflower is the anchovies, which generate a remarkable sweetness, a memorable depth -- and not one bit of fishiness. I'm willing to bet: you won't 'taste' anchovy, you'll just think, Wow, this cauliflower is wonderful.


Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 60 minutes
Serves 10 (smaller big-meal servings, 5 standard meal servings)

1 large cauliflower head (mine weighed in at 2 1/2 pounds after the leaves were removed, much of the core Vd out)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic
2 anchovy fillets
3 green onions, white and green parts (these add color but could also use chopped leek or shallot)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup with a Microplane ribbon grater)
Salt & pepper to taste

STEAM CAULIFLOWER: Put steamer onto boil. Trim cauliflower (remove the leaves, cut a deep V into the core and remove it) and cut into small florets (bite-size is good). Add to steamer and cover, cook about 7 minutes or until a knife inserted into a thick stem releases easily. (The cauliflower won't really 'cook' any more, just reheat, so make sure it's the texture you like.) Remove from heat and uncover to cool a bit. Transfer to a baking dish.

SAUCE: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmery on MEDIUM. Add garlic and anchovy, use a spatula to mash the anchovy into small bits, then let cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the green onion, stir well to coat with fat, cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, adjust heat to create a fast simmer and cook down a bit. Add the cream and cook down a bit, watching temperature carefully to avoid scorching. Pour hot sauce over cauliflower. (Or combine the cauliflower and sauce in a separate large bowl before transferring to the baking dish, it might help coat the florets with sauce.)

TOPPING: Mix the topping ingredients, spread evenly over cauliflower just before ready to bake.

BAKE: Bake at 400F for 20 - 25 minutes if done right away, while cauliflower is still hot. If baking from room temperature, I'd allow 30 - 40 minutes.

DAY BEFORE Make and assemble the dish, except the topping, cover and refrigerate
MORNING OF Make the topping and set aside
BEFORE DINNER Return the dish to room temperature, add topping just before going into oven

If you use a rasp-like microplane to grate Parmesan, you just might need two, a ribbon microplane as well a fine microplane. And if you're following a recipe exactly, you'll want to measure by weight, because the volume differences are enormous, just look at these two piles of Parmesan, grated from two chunks of the same weight.

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© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2006

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. This sounds just amazing. I think cauliflower is turning into my favorite vegetable.

  2. I agree with Kalyn! GO Cauliflower! I normally add bits of smokey ham to the whole dish which gives it a great flavor.

  3. Cauliflower has to be one of the strangest veggies. Most everybody starts out thinking they don't like it. The lucky ones then find one or two recipes that make it a beautiful veggie and this looks like one of them. Hooray!

  4. I realized later that I forgot to say AWESOME photo with the autumn leaves in front of the dish. And I like Meeta's idea with the ham.

  5. I am a huge cauliflower fan and I think the anchovy here is brilliant. Thanks!

  6. sounds delicious! I love cauliflower and with that cream, what could be better?

  7. Wow. That looks and sounds great. I've just seen a couple of cheesy cauliflower dishes on Ivonne's Dishes of Comfort post; I have a cauliflower on hand, and anchovy paste, and parmesan -- think I'll try this tomorrow evening. Thanks for ALL of the wonderful Thanksgiving vegetable ideas.

  8. Kalyn ~ It's gorgeous, no doubt. Lately I've been finding locally grown heads at the farmers market, too, and they're so fresh! And thanks, I'm getting some hang of the photo business, I think!

    Meeta ~ Ham would add a whole 'nother layer, for sure.

    Tanna ~ I just can't imagine not liking cauliflower.

    Christine ~ You're welcome. The anchovy is indeed wonderful.

    FitGal ~ Thanks for stopping in! Cauliflower and cream: a definite match.

    Lisa ~ Let me know how it goes! I hope you love it too!

    - AK

  9. Very good flavor, but needs thickening for the sauce. it was completely soupy. I drained it before serving.

  10. Hi Anonymous ~ Next time, you might cook the sauce down, right in the skillet, until it's the right thickness for you. Anything with this much cream will get as thick as you like. That way, you won't drain away all that flavor and goodness. AK

  11. Oh my goodness, Alanna, you're right!! My husband was very excited to try this (I was a little nervous) but the anchovy does indeed add that certain je ne sais quoi! Not fishy at all and I get the impression that we'd miss it if it weren't there. Brilliant!


  12. What might be substituted if 'afraid' to try anchovy?

  13. Andi ~ Anchovies are what makes this dish special, the 'signature' ingredient, if you will. Therefore I don't recommend a substitute but perhaps, if you're so inclined, another recipe. Or better yet, gathering courage!

  14. Well thanks anyway. Yes, I would really like to not be 'afraid' of fish... but the last time I ate fish it landed me in the hospital for a couple days. Have a good one...:)

  15. Andi - That's not being 'afraid' of fish, that's keeping a healthy ocean between you and them!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna