Lately I realized how rarely I publish side dish recipes. Maybe in my mind side dishes seem less than exciting, or something I assume everyone either already knows how to prepare, or just doesn’t give much thought to. Well, the recipe I am writing about today is not only my favorite way to cook cauliflower, but also a “skinny” and “low carb” one! I don’t much care for raw or unseasoned cauliflower, but this cooking technique makes it so delicious! I learnt it a few years ago when I was following a sort of diet (the Zone Diet), in an effort to eat better and get in shape. Well, even when I stopped being quite so careful with my diet, I kept cooking this dish for me and my family because is really so tasty and healthy, and super easy to prepare. Cauliflower is so very good for our health that finding a way to make eating it a pleasure is a total “win-win!”
“Gratin” is a widespread culinary technique in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter, or béchamel sauce (white sauce). So generally it means a dish pretty heavy on calories and fat. However in this specific case, the crunchy brown crust is created by covering the boiled cauliflower with mozzarella cheese cubes and grated parmesan (in a precise ratio, of course, if you want it to be a ZONE DIET meal) and then baking at 400 F for about one hour. The method to prepare this plate is quite simple, it only takes a little patience to boil the cauliflower first, and bake it after.
INGREDIENTS for a 10′ x 8′ pan
1 medium sized cauliflower
2-3 handful mozzarella cheese cubes (I buy the one in slices and make the cubes out of it)
grated parmesan cheese (for dusting)
sea salt to taste
red wine vinegar
Start by cleaning the cauliflower. Separate the heads from the steams, and wash.
Arrange the cauliflower in a stainless steel pot, with just an inch or so of water. Drizzle the vegetable with red wine vinegar. (It will not leave any taste, it is just a tip to avoid your kitchen smelling of cauliflower the entire week!). In my pot, I put the lid on, let the water reach the boiling point, then move the pot to low heat and let the cauliflower steam for about 20 minutes. Be careful not to overcook it; the cauliflower should become tender but keep its shape- not become mush.
Once the cauliflower is steamed, arrange it neatly in a 10′ x 8′ pan (my favorite, in this case, is a glass one). Cover it with the mozzarella cubes, and then sea salt to taste and a generous sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.
Bake at 400 F for an hour… and you’ll obtain this appealing crust on top…
Serve it still warm and enjoy! Even the pickiest kid will love it!
LEARNT IT! MADE IT! LOVED IT!
– If you want to give even more flavor to your cauliflower, you can use different kind of cheese like Provolone or Asigo for the topping.
– If you have leftovers, the cauliflower will be delicious even the day after (up to five days if properly stored and refrigerated), but of course it will loose the crunchiness.
– I called this a “side dish” but honestly, considering that it contains proteins, carbs, and fats, you can just eat it as a “complete meal” if accompanied by a portion of fresh fruit.
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