Gratin of any form is wonderful comfort food. In place of the milk/cream, I used a cottage cheese purée in this gratin. The day after making this I turned the leftovers into creamy cauliflower soup by puréeing what was left (I added a little water to thin it out), heating it up, and topping it with a sprinkle of chives.
(Yield: 4 servings)
~3 c cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
3 c fresh baby spinach or ~3/4 c frozen baby spinach
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ TB olive oil
1/3 c low-fat cottage cheese
1/3 c water
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp flour
1 tsp butter or olive oil (to grease the pan)
2 oz sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (optional, for topping)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Steam the cauliflower and spinach for 3-5 minutes to lightly soften, then drain the veggies. Sauté the onion in ½ TB olive oil over medium heat until translucent, then add the garlic and sauté for another two minutes. In a blender, purée the cottage cheese, water, salt, pepper, and flour. Grease a small casserole dish; add the steamed cauliflower and spinach and the sautéed onion and garlic; pour the cottage cheese purée on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cauliflower is soft and starting to brown at the edges. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake (or broil, if you want the top golden brown) for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Alternative Breadcrumb Topping: You can mix a handful of breadcrumbs with your favorite fresh minced herbs (parsley, chives, and basil work well) and a drizzle of olive oil, and top the gratin with this mixture. After you top the veggies with the breadcrumbs, broil the gratin for a couple of minutes so that it browns. Or if you prefer, you can omit the topping altogether, since it’s the dish is still full of flavor.
If You Don’t Do Dairy: You can thicken up some vegetable stock with a roux. Heat 1 TB olive oil and stir in 1 TB of flour; let the flour cook gently for ~2 minutes. Whisk in ~1 cup of stock and season to taste with salt and pepper. Use this thickened stock in place of the cottage cheese purée.