Do me a solid and ignore how #uglydelicious the photo of this cauliflower gratin is. Really, the picture doesn’t do it justice. Tender cauliflower is coated in a gooey, cheesy bechamel and topped with crunchy panko for the ultimate winter side dish. This dish is heavy on the cheese, but also, like, vegetables. Win-win!
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 medium cauliflower heads (about 4 pounds total), cut into florets
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon butter, divided
3/4 cup flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed
8 ounces aged sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
7 ounces Dubliner cheese, shredded (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup panko
1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup)
1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high. Season with 1/4 cup salt. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain cauliflower and set aside.
2. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium. Gradually whisk in flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in warm milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in cheddar, Dubliner, pepper, nutmeg, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt until smooth.
3. Transfer cauliflower and 5 cups cheese sauce to a large bowl; stir to coat. Spoon mixture into a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Pour remaining 1 cup cheese sauce over top. Bake in preheated oven until edges are bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Place melted butter, panko, and Parmesan in a small bowl; stir to combine. Sprinkle panko mixture over casserole, and bake until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.