How to Make Cream Out of Cauliflower

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