Lots of garlic, fresh sage, and caramelized onions give the cauliflower gratin depth and flavor.
Brown the bacon and set aside. Remember, you can substitute vegetarian “bacon bits”( adding these in at the end) and growing up eating these, I actually really like the flavor, and they add a nice crunch.
Wipe out the pan and sauté the onions. Add the garlic. Sometimes I’ll double the garlic for an extra boost. When the garlic is golden and fragrant, add the cauliflower and ½ C water, letting the cauliflower steam. Turn heat to medium low and cover with a lid or foil, and let the cauliflower steam for 10-12 minutes.
While the cauliflower is steaming, make the creamy sage bechamel sauce. I use milk instead of cream and have cut down on the cheese for this recipe.
Sometimes, for added texture, I’ll add breadcrumbs for a crunchy topping. Blend up bread with sage, a pinch of salt and a little olive oil. Sprinkle over the top. This is completely optional, and leave it out if going gluten free.
Or bake them in small individual ramekins and serve them alongside your main course for a more formal affair.
However you choose to serve it, it’s hard to revisit a big bowl of this.
- ½ C diced Bacon (optional ) or sub vegetarian "Bacon Bits"
- 1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Cup sliced red onion or shallots
- 6-10 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1 Large head cauliflower
- ½ C water
- Sage Bechamel Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or rice flour)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped sage leaves plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- ¼ Cup grated melty cheese- like mozzarella or Gruyere- (plus 3 Tablespoons for the top -optional)
- ⅓ Cup grated hard flavorful cheese like Parmesan or pecorino
- ⅓ Cup bread crumbs ( optional)
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Slice head of cauliflower into ½ inch think slices and chop into bite size pieces. Saute Bacon in a heavy bottom skillet on medium heat until just crisp. Set bacon aside, drain fat and wipe out pan. Saute onion over med- high heat in 1-2 T olive oil until tender, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, turn heat to med and sauté until fragrant and golden. Add Chopped Cauliflower and ½ C water. Turn heat to med low, cover pan with foil or lid and let steam 12-14 minutes, until water has evaporated and cauliflower is tender. Drain any excess water.
- While cauliflower is steaming, make Sage Bechamel. In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. Stir until butter just begins to become golden and becomes nutty and fragrant. Add flour. Stir and cook flour for at least 1 minute. Whisk in ½ C milk making sure to whisk all the flour from the corners and sides of the pot. Add another ½ C milk, whisking well. When thickened, add final cup of milk, sage, spices, salt and whisk constantly until mixture thickens and just comes to a boil. Turn heat off. Add cheese and whisk until smooth.
- Pour Sage Bechamel over the steamed cauliflower (be sure to drain any excess water) and stir it in, coating cauliflower well. Top with crispy bacon (or bacon bits) and few sage leaves and a little more cheese (optional) or bread crumbs ( optional). You could refrigerate overnight at this point if making ahead. Bake in the oven, uncovered until lightly browned and bubbly, about 25 minutes.