Cauliflower is one of those vegetables I refused to eat at a kid. As an adult, I have acquired a taste for it. Now, I will actually eat it raw. Willingly.
I have heard that mashed cauliflower, when prepare the right way, can mimic the flavor of mashed potatoes. I love some mashed potatoes, but if I can find a way to incorporate more cauliflower into my diet, I’m going to try it.
This gratin is garlicky, buttery, cheesy, and the crispy breadcrumb topping adds a yummy crunchy texture. It’s tasty and I will make this again. But I’m not going to lie to you folks. You aren’t going to be able to serve this to your kids under the guise that they are eating mashed potatoes and fool them. The texture is just different.
So, while this gratin may not replace mashed potatoes, it is a yummy alternative. I opted to steam my cauliflower rather than boil it to preserve all those healthy nutrients. Once it was soft, I ran it through my food mill for a smoother consistency, but you could also use a potato ricer or masher. This dish can be made up to a day ahead of time. Just skip the breadcrumb topping until right before you are ready to put it in the oven.
Mashed Cauliflower and Cheese Gratin
- 2 large heads cauliflower, broken into florets
- 1-1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
- 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
- ½ teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup (4 ounces) Italian-style panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- Fill a large stockpot about ¼ the way with water. Bring to a boil over high heat
- Place cauliflower florets in a large steam basket over the pot. Cover. Reduce heat to medium. Steam cauliflower until very tender, about 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher, or process through a foodmill using the blade with the largest opening.
- Stir in the cheeses, butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Pour cauliflower into a greased 8 x 8 x 2-inch greased casserole dish.
- Combine breadcrumbs and melted butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread over the top of mashed cauliflower.
- Bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes until cheeses are melted and topping is golden brown.