Lots of garlic, fresh sage, and caramelized onions give the cauliflower gratin depth and flavor.
Feel free to add crispy pancetta or bacon!
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 until al dente.
While the cauliflower is steaming, make the creamy sage bechamel sauce. I use 2 % 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. This is optional. Blend up day-old bread with fresh sage, fresh garlic, a pinch of salt and a little olive oil. Sprinkle over the top.
For meat-eaters, sometimes I’ll add browned, crispy pancetta or bacon, for extra heartiness and a hint of smoky flavor. Totally up to you.
I actually like vegan “bacon bits” personally- no not for everyone, I know, but I grew up eating them and acquired a taste for them. 😉
However you choose to serve this Cauliflower Gratin, it’s pretty hard to resist!
Cauliflower Gratin with Garlic and Sage
Cauliflower Gratin with garlic and sage, a delicious side dish that is keto, low carb and gluten-free, perfect for the holiday table! Vegetarian or add bacon or pancetta.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 1x
- Category: vegetarian side dish
- Method: baked
- Cuisine: northwest
- 2 Tablespoon olive oil or butter
- 1 onion, diced ( or sub 2 fat shallots)
- 6–8 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1 Large head cauliflower, cut into small, bite-sized florets
- ½ C water
Sage Bechamel Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or gf flour)
- 2 cups 2 % milk ( or use whole)
- 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped sage leaves plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼–½ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg ( fresh grated is nice)
- ¼–½ cup grated mozzarella or gruyere cheese- (plus 3 Tablespoons for the top -optional)
- ¼ cup grated hard flavorful cheese like Parmesan or pecorino
- ¼–½ cup crispy bacon bits, or crispy pancetta
- ¼ cup vegan “bacon bits”
- bread crumb topping ( see notes)
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Slice head of cauliflower into 1 inch slices and chop into bite size pieces.
- Saute onion over med- high heat in 1-2 T olive oil until tender, stirring often, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, turn heat to med and sauté until fragrant and golden. Take your time here and make sure onion and garlic are deeply golden.
- Add the chopped cauliflower and ½ cup water. Bring to a simmer. Turn heat to med low, cover, steam 10-12 minutes, until cauliflower is fork tender. Cook off ( uncovered) or drain any excess water.
- While cauliflower is steaming, make Sage Bechamel Sauce. In a medium 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 simmer. Turn heat to low and add cheese and whisk until smooth. Taste. Adjust salt and pepper.
- Decide what you want to bake the cauliflower gratin in. Grease a 10 inch cast iron skillet, 8 x 11 inch baking dish or 6-8 small ramekins. Pour a little of Sage Bechamel in the bottom of the grease baking dish and top with cauliflower (be sure to drain any excess water first). Pour the remaining béchamel sauce over top.
- Top with optional crispy bacon (or vegan 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. ( Be sure to bring to room temp before baking. ) Bake uncovered in the oven, uncovered until lightly browned and bubbly, about 25-35 minutes.
To make bread the crumbs, mix ¼ cup bread crumbs with ¼ cups gruyere cheese and a pinch salt. Toss with just enough olive oil ( or melted butter) to lightly coat. About 2 tablespoons.
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