The first gratin I ever encountered was in culinary school. My school adhered to the more traditional French style of cooking, so we made dishes with a lot of heavy cream, cheese, and carbs (I've got no problem with that). I remember falling in love with the concept of this dish: thinly sliced veggies baked to tender perfection in delicious, creamy, cheesy goodness. Often in a pretty dish with a golden crust and fresh herbs sprinkled on top. Nope, no problem at all.
I like to add just a touch of heat to my gratins, whether in the form of horseradish, red pepper flakes or hot sauce. I think it adds a nice balance to the richness of the dish. Life is all about balance, after all. Speaking of which, because this dish is so rich, consider serving it alongside a fresh green salad or baked chicken or fish so you don't instantaneously fall into a deep, dreamy food coma.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
- 1 cup (about 2 large) sliced shallots
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese
- 1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (2- to 3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
- 3 cups cooked lima beans
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup (about 1½ ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup lightly toasted whole walnuts, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 3-quart (9-by-13-inch) baking dish.
2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the top and incorporate, stirring until fully combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk (really, y'all! Really slowly), a little at a time to create a thick, creamy sauce. Let simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the Gruyère cheese, horseradish, and ¼ cup of the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Combine the cauliflower and beans in the baking dish. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and jiggle the pan to settle the sauce.
5. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, walnuts, and remaining 1/4 cup parsley. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
6. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the cauliflower is just tender and the top is golden brown. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
Swap it out: Don't like lima beans? Try navy or great northern beans.
Like this recipe as much as we do? Click here to purchase a copy of "Easy Beans" by Jackie Freeman.