Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cauliflower, Sweet Potatoes, and Potatoes Au Gratin

I grew up eating gratin de chou-fleur in France. Cauliflower is locally grown (mostly in Brittany), it's relatively cheap and a vegetable easy to find in the winter. I don't have the statistics, but my guess is that 80% of cauliflowers in France are eaten au gratin: either as a main dish for dinner or as a side dish with pork roast, pork or lamb chops. My husband ate too many gratins de choux-fleurs while growing up;  he is no big fan anymore (was he ever?)...As a result, I have tried other recipes for cauliflower because I can't resist purchasing a fresh big head of cauliflower at the Farmers' market. So, once in a while, I cook it au gratin as well. As with any gratin, we add potatoes (as a treat for those who don't like cauliflower that much!). Since living in the US, I have started to add sweet potatoes as well. They add color (and color is HUGE when it comes to feeding kids) and give us something to talk about (why are they sweet? why orange? what's the difference between yam and sweet potatoes? Anybody?)...

As in most "gratin" recipes in France, the vegetables tend to be overcooked. It gives a different taste to the cauliflower than the one you get when the florets are just "al dente" but it's easier to feed to the children because it melts in their mouth. If you are feeding younger children, you could puree vegetables taken from the bottom of the pan (so that you don't get much white sauce and cheese). I tend to to that for my younger kid who is not a big fan of cauliflower au gratin (any DNA reason?). Bon Appétit!

Ingredients (for 6 persons)
- 1 head of cauliflower, florets separated
- 1 sweet potatoes, pealed and cubed
- 3 potatoes, skin off and cubed
- 1 cup grated Swiss cheese

For the Sauce Béchamel (White sauce)
- 3.5  tablespoon (50g) butter
- 1/2 cup (50g) All Purpose flour
- 2.5 cups (60cl) milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Ground nutmeg to taste

Steaming the vegetables:
  • Steam the vegetables until soft
  • While the vegetables are steaming, prepare the Sauce Béchamel
Preparing the Sauce Béchamel:

  • In a pot melt butter over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble, pour in the flour and whisk for 2-3 minutes until golden blond (not brown!).This creates the "roux".
  • Warm the milk (supposedly, the milk has to be just below boiling point but I just warm it in the microwave)
  • Pour in the milk one cup at a time and whisk until the sauce thickens (it takes at least 5 minutes)
  • Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
Preparing the Gratin
  • In a baking pan, put the vegetables
  • Pour the sauce Béchamel on top of the vegetables
  • Add Swiss cheese evenly on top
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes
  • Broil until golden brown if necessary.
My personal comments:
  • I use my pressure cooker to steam the vegetables. It takes less than 5 minutes.


  1. dans ma famille, les enfants aiment ce gratin qui n'est pas sec mais au contraire moelleux , en plus rapide à faire en revenant de son travail le soir .

  2. Hey, stumbled on you from Steamy Kitchen--LOVE your site! I'm struggling with getting my kids to eat "real" food, so I will follow with interest!

  3. Ohhh. This is exciting. I've never thought of combining the potatoes with the cauliflower like this. I'm excited to try this!