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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cheddar Cauliflower Au Gratin recipe

I've had plenty of days when I bring my children to the grocery store with me and I really regret it. What should only take 5 or 10 minutes of my time, takes 20 minutes or longer. There's countless "Not today, honey" and "We have cereal at home" as well as "Don't fight!" I often leave with twice as many things as I had planned on buying. Ahh, the joys of motherhood and tests of my patience...

But, luckily, there are those times when they come with me and provide wisdom and good judgment. This was one of those days.

We usually start in the produce aisle. Seems innocent enough but they really want to put everything in the cart. Since I already know the inventory at home, there's a bit of negotiation. As I was perusing the produce, the kids saw this orange vegetable that looked like cauliflower but I'm one of those people who, when faced with an unknown item in the produce aisle, turns her head and looks for the old comforts of carrots and broccoli.

This vegetable was labeled cheddar cauliflower. Both kids enthusiastically pleaded with me to put it in the cart. It was so pretty and orange, I decided to go against my normal grain and buy it. Just looking at it, I thought, well, I can steam it and bake it in the oven with cheddar and some milk. Cheese usually makes everything taste good anyway, and with that name, what else could I do?

When I got home, I was curious. What was the deal with this orange vegetable? This is what I learned:
  • It was first discovered in Canada in 1970
  • Over the years, it was crossed with a white variety to create a delicious, high vitamin content cauliflower
  • The curds contain approximately 25 times more beta carotene (Vitamin A) than white cauliflower
  • Cheddar cauliflower is creamier than the white variety making it easy to serve mashed.
Ooh, sounds exciting. So, when I began dinner that night, I did just what I planned. See the recipe below. The night I made it, I had some extra barley and I used that as a base. You'll see that in this picture but I didn't include it in the recipe.

Next time you are in your grocery store, consider trying cheddar cauliflower and expanding your horizons.

Maybe they'll think there really is cheddar in the cauliflower...

Cheddar Cauliflower Au Gratin
1 head of cheddar/orange cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup milk
1/4 - 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 Tbl olive oil or melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Steam cauliflower in a steam basket in a pot or a rice cooker. Cool slightly.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
3. Prepare a casserole dish by spraying with non-stick spray or lightly coating with oil or butter.
4. Place cauliflower in dish. Pour milk over and then top with cheddar.
5. Mix breadcrumbs in a bowl with oil or butter, salt and pepper. Place breadcrumbs on top of cauliflower. Bake 15-20 minutes or until breadcrumbs start to brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!


Stuart said...

"Cauliflower is but cabbage with a college education." -- Mark Twain

I prefer to roast or pan saute the florets...give it a nice, nutty flavor instead of the bitter, "cabbagy" flavor you get when boiling.

I grew up on a similar dish, but we made a milk and cheese sauce, with mustard in it, and then pored it over and baked it. Your mac and cheese sauce would work perfectly!

earlysnowdrop said...

Have my cheddar cauliflower in the garden. Noticed the flower is growing when planting strawberries nearby. Didn't know about the high vitamin content. Can't wait to harvest. Actually, I have only planted one plant. Possibly will purchase a few more.

The Family Chef said...

@earlysnowdrop, I hope you enjoy the recipe. We like to eat it simply steamed; the flavor is better than white cauliflower. Thanks for the comment!

Claire said...

I ran into a couple problems with this recipe...the milk became sort of clumped and cheesy after I baked it and it accumulated some water in the dish even though I drained the cauliflower well after steaming. It still tasted delicious I'm just wondering if I missed a step or did something wrong.

The Family Chef said...

@Claire Was the cauliflower cool or still hot? Hot cauliflower might cause extra moisture. What type of milk did you use? A lower % fat might cause that. I looked at the photo again; I had placed it on a bed of brown rice (probably b/c it was leftover). That might help. I'm still not sure what happened with the milk...hope this helps!