Cauliflower Au Gratin is a delicious easy to make the alternative to Potatoes Au Gratin that I love making when I am craving a comfort food casserole. It combines Healthy Cauliflower, heavy cream, half and half cream, Swiss cheese, parmesan cheese, and smoky ham for an all-star casserole to serve your family this winter.
Have you ever craved your favorite comfort foods yet thought I think I’ll skip it due to excessive carbs and calories? I definitely have thought the same thing– better not bother with eating that due to all the carbs and calories.
Which is exactly why I started going through old recipes to figure out ways I could enjoy my favorite comfort food casseroles or something very similar. The Potatoes Au Gratin was one I decided I could do something fairly minimal to achieve a delicious lower calorie version of something I love so dearly by omitting the potatoes and substituting cauliflower.
Make no mistake this isn’t a diet food of any sort it still retains it’s rich delicious comforting flavors of heavy cream, half and half, as well as real butter and flour so if you are watching your weight don’t go overboard — however, enjoy a lower calorie version to curb that craving for your favorite comfort food.
Cauliflower Au Gratin with Ham Recipe
- 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup of diced smoked ham
- 4 tablespoons or (1/2 stick)of unsalted butter, divided
- 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup of half and half
- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
- 3/4 cup of grated swiss cheese divided by 2
- 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan, divided x2
- 1 small thinly sliced onion, if desired
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Steam the cauliflower florets in a large steamer for 2 to 4 minutes, drain
- While waiting, melt 2 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add in the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes. Pour the heavy cream and half and half into the butter and flour mixture and stir until it comes to a low simmer, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Slowly add 3/4 of a cup of freshly grated swiss cheese, stirring constantly till completely melted. Remove the pan from the burner, add 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, nutmeg, and of 1/2 Parmesan cheese.
- Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 of parmesan cheese, diced ham, and salt and pepper. Evenly distribute a layer of thinly sliced onions on top of cauliflower, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top, is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Interesting facts to ponder concerning Cauliflower
For Cauliflower being such a highly modified plant, the vegetable cauliflower has a long history. The Cauliflower plant was originally was grown in Asia and around the Mediterranean Sea.
Cauliflower has been grown and enjoyed across Europe since the 1500’s.
The Cauliflower plant was introduced to France from Genoa, Italy in the 16th century, and are featured in Olivier de Serres’ Théâtre de agriculture , as cauli-fiori as the Italians call it, which are still rather rare in France; they hold an honorable place in the garden because of their delicacy.”
Cauliflower was first cultivated in Margaretville in 1891 when William F. VanBenschoten planted a handful of seeds on his farm on a mountaintop overlooking the village. The vegetable thrived in the region, and Mr. VanBenschoten’s first crop found a ready market in New York City.
Cauliflower is closely related to broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, rutabagas, and Brussels sprouts
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable. It is called this because of the flowers have four petals and resemble a Greek cross.
Cruciferous vegetables are full of nutrients that may help prevent cancer
Cauliflower is actually a flower that hasn’t fully developed yet
Cauliflower leaves are edible, but they do have a stronger taste than the florets
China is the world’s leading producer of cauliflower
California produces the most cauliflower –than any other state in the USA. Cauliflower is grown in the Salinas Valley of California also known as the “Salad Bowl of the World.”
Green cauliflower is produced when you cross cauliflower with broccoli
© Heidy L. McCallum and The McCallum’s Shamrock Patch, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material or photos without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Heidy L. McCallum and The McCallum’s Shamrock Patch with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. You may not copy and paste recipes to share on Social Platforms.