Cauliflower Gratin

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Cauliflower often gets overlooked when it comes to tasty side dishes.  Initially, I started preparing this gratin so we could have something similar to macaroni and cheese, but, without the pasta.  The sauce has a creamy and silky texture and with the addition of  plenty of gooey cheese, the kids like it too!

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Ingredients you’ll need:
3 cups steamed cauliflower florets
4 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 cups light cream or whole milk
1/2 tsp each  tarragon, onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper & salt
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese
1 cup crushed croutons or buttery crackers
1 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.  Set aside.  Steam the cauliflower florets then roughly chop them into bite size pieces.  Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the sauce.  On the stove top over medium high heat,  melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a small saucepan.  Add  1/3 cup of flour.  Whisk together until the butter and flour combine to form a roux.

Whisk all of the seasonings and the Dijon mustard into the light cream.  Lower the heat to medium.  Slowly whisk the cream mixture into the roux, whisking continually.  [tip: Make an effort to scrape the sides of the pot for any residual roux that has settled along the edge.] After adding all of the cream continue to whisk until it begins to bubble.  Lower the heat and allow it to gently simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese to the sauce, then remove the saucepan from the heat, stirring until the cheese has completely melted.  Divide the remaining cheese into three equal parts.  To assemble, ladle cheese sauce onto the bottom of the baking dish, next cauliflower then shredded cheese.  Repeat ending with shredded cheese. 

Sprinkle the buttered crumbs on top.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and bubbly.  Yield: 6 servings

Cook’s note:
For the topping, I used Ranch flavored croutons for the crunchy topping.  You could use your choice of seasoned breadcrumbs or buttery crackers, if desired.

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