Fresh Ideas: Broccoli, Cauliflower Gratin

About a month ago, a friend brought over a piping hot bowl of roasted vegetables in a cheesy sauce filled with fresh Parmesan, roasted garlic and all kinds of earthy flavor.

I had told him I was too busy to cook (much less eat) and turned down his offer for free food without thinking twice about what I might actually have been turning down — roasted broccoli and cauliflower covered in a hearty cheese sauce (my favorite).

Luckily for me, my friend wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and brought a bowl of Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin straight from his kitchen. Instantly, I admitted that I had been entirely wrong: I could definitely find the time to eat this dish.

After a long day of holiday wrapping, paper grading and work, this particular gratin was the perfect kind of cold weather comfort food that my body and mind needed — not too decadent, but just decadent enough and filled with flavor.

I frequently struggle with making broccoli or cauliflower any way outside of ordinary, steamed vegetables, but this dish incorporated long-roasted garlic, buttery greens and a subtle almond taste. The key is to prepare the gratin cheese sauce with whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose for hardier and earthier notes. In addition, almond meal made from confectioners’ sugar and slivered almonds creates a nutty sweet topping that’s unlike any gratin I’ve seen before.

Since the surprise visit, I’ve made this dish half a dozen times, experimenting with different variations. Can I add chicken, mozzarella or rice? Not really.

Each time, I always find myself returning to the original recipe with its whole wheat and almond flavors. Otherwise, it’s just not the same creamy dish.

Pair this gratin with a leafy salad or just eat it by itself. This Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin is perfect when you have little time to cook and just a few ingredients for a piping bowl of comfort food any season.