How to Make Cream Out of Cauliflower

We made a rich, velvety cauliflower gratin without any cream.

Published Feb. 17, 2022.

Cauliflower is special. Unlike most vegetables, it is relatively low in fiber, particularly the insoluble fiber that is resistant to breaking down. This gives the brassica a unique quality: It can easily be blended into an ultrasmooth, snow-white puree that’s rich in flavor and texture without being heavy–all without adding any cream. 

We use the silky cauliflower puree as a sauce for steamed cauliflower florets in a light, modern cauliflower gratin that’s satisfying but without the heft that usually comes from loads of dairy.

How to Make a Creamless Cream Sauce

1. Simmer cauliflower cores, stems, and florets in water with butter until the cauliflower turns soft.

2. Whiz the cooked cauliflower and its cooking liquid in a blender–along with some grated Parmesan cheese for richness and saltiness–until smooth. Add dry mustard, cayenne, and nutmeg to round out the flavors.

3. Blend in a cornstarch slurry to give the puree body, then season it with salt and pepper.

Coat steamed cauliflower florets in the sauce and load the mixture into a baking dish, then top it with toasted panko bread crumbs and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Bake the gratin until the sauce bubbles at the edges, then sprinkle on chopped fresh chives.

With that, you’ll have a creamless cauliflower gratin that’s good enough to require a second helping—and light enough to guarantee that you’ll have room for it.

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