Growing up, cauliflower was not one of my favorite veggies. Then again, in fairness to cauliflower, there were very few veggies I liked as a child. It wasn’t until later in life that I found out there was more to cauliflower than simply boiling it. Roasted, baked, grilled or riced, it is a great vehicle for sauces, herbs, spices and other flavors.
This version of cauliflower mac and cheese, is based on culinary icon, Jaques Pepin’s memory of having cauliflower gratin during his childhood in France. There is no one better I could think of drawing inspiration from (and erasing my own childhood cauliflower memories).
Although this is a classic recipe, there are really many ways you could make this. I’ve added grilled corn or jalapeños, used great Swiss cheeses like Gruyère or Emmental, or made it with crispy bacon and cheddar (minus the nutmeg). Experiment for yourself and make it your own!
Finally, I just launched the ChefonaBoat channel on YouTube where you can watch this and other recipes. Please subscribe by clicking here: ChefonaBoat Videos
Cauliflower ‘Mac’ and Cheese
- 1 head cauliflower (about 1 pound)
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
- 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
- 2 Tbsp bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into small florets and cook in a medium pot of boiling water for about 5-6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, add the flour and whisk about 2 minutes until light golden in color. Add the milk, wisking constantly until the white sauce (béchamel) begins to simmer, about 1 minute, stir in salt and nutmeg.
- Butter individual ramekins or other baking dish, then layer cauliflower, cheese and white sauce, until the dish is filled. Top with cheese and bread crumbs.
- Place ramekins or baking dish on a foil-lined cookie sheet (it’s easier to clean up!) and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.