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Dessert Recipes

Purple Cauliflower and Potato Gratin

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It's been years since I've seen a secret note neatly folded up with an important message. I remember passing notes back in elementary school and sometimes a note would say: Do you like me? Check yes or no.

In most of the notes there would be: Who do you like in class? And in some notes there would be: List your top 3 favorite colors.

My list would usually have pink, purple, and blue. Pink was always number one. Today after looking again at these broccoli photos, I’ve promoted purple to the number one status. 

Wow! The color of this broccoli was just eye-popping incredible! And somehow getting your kids to eat a purple vegetable is so much easier than getting them to eat a green one. Although, oddly enough, broccoli is one of my children’s favorite veggies. Maybe because a clever friend told them when they were wee ones that the broccoli florets were fairy trees where the fairies lived. 

I had this cauliflower in my fridge for over a week. It’s smell was beckoning me to hurry and make something with it. Cauliflower has a pretty funky smell after a while. As I was pondering what to do with it’s violet gorgeousness, I settled on a simple and wonderful pasta dish I usually make. 

Unsatisfied with this safe and tasty dinner idea, I changed my mind.
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I encounter a heck of a lot of deliciousness through Twitter, Facebook, Foodbuzz, and Stumbleupon. I tend to make a mental bookmark of some things that have really caught my eye, make my stomach stir with embarrassingly loud pangs of hunger, or that makes me want to lick the screen (I know…super gross!).

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I like to think of myself as a person that embodies extreme amounts of self-control. But sometimes I just cave from the desire; like on Monday night when I made this gratin I saw my talented friend Jamie from Life's a Feast over across the Atlantic make one day in France. I pictured her and her family eating this together in their sweet apartment in Nantes on a cold winter’s evening. Maybe they were arguing about who would get the last, irresistible portion while they drank another glass of delicious wine and shared another loaf of crusty and perfect French bread. 

I’ve made potato gratins before but never one with cauliflower. I knew I had to make this for my loved ones. Jamie suggests eating it as a side dish with roasted meat. We ate it as a side dish with Fabrizio’s incredible steak he made for us on Monday night. It was our family Valentine’s Day dinner that we celebrated the day before Valentine’s.  I made homemade bread (Abby Dodge’s fantastic Peasant Boule), this gratin, and a banana/persimmon bread for dessert. Since our dinners all together are rare, I tend to make it a very special meal. It wasn’t actually Valentine’s because we never see hubs on Valentine’s. That happens to be one of the busiest nights at the restaurant and honestly, I’m really not that sentimental about this holiday.

I don’t need a day to remind me how much I love the people dear to me. It’s these meals together with the ones I love that I cherish the most.

These meals together make my stomach content and my heart very happy.
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You could make this gratin with white cauliflower or even with just potatoes and the besciamella. If you will use only potatoes, I would double the amount. I used my besciamella recipe and the portion was perfect for a 10x6 casserole dish. This dish is incredible. I would’ve been happy eating it alone with a great salad. Or even alone without a salad. It smells heavenly while it’s baking and good luck waiting for it to cool before taking that first cheesy and dreamy bite.

Purple Cauliflower and Potato Gratin
inspired by Life’s a Feast

1 cauliflower head (I used a purple one), cut into bite-sized pieces
4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup Gruyère cheese cut into small chunks (or whatever soft cheese you’d like)
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Besciamella Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
teaspoon nutmeg

la besciamella directions:

Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together until incorporated. The flour will be very dry. Raise the heat to medium-high and in 1/2 cup portions, gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. The besciamella will continue to thicken even when you remove from the heat. If it seems to dense, whisk in a little bit more of mil. Whisk in the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

vegetables:

Preheat oven to 420F. Sauté’ the onion in a large frying pan with 1-2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil until translucent and golden brown.

In the meantime, boil the cauliflowers and potatoes in two different medium sauce pans until they are tender. The vegetables should still have a little crunch and it should only take a few minutes. Be sure to not overcook the vegetables.

Drain the veggies and place in a large bowl. Season the vegetables with salt, pepper, and 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil.  Both vegetables will continue cooking in casserole with the besciamella sauce.
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Spoon a portion of the besciamella over the bottom of the casserole. Layer the vegetables on top. Spread the rest of the besciamella on top. Toss on the Gruyère cheese and sprinkle on the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

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Bake at 420 F for about 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown on top.

buon appetito! Hope you are having a fabulous week!

47 comments

  1. Bella, thank you for posting this recipe..I'm always looking for gratin recipes since I became a vegetarian...love the purple cauliflower & potatoes combo! Yum!

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  2. Gratin dishes are delicious. Using purple cauliflower was such a great idea. It makes this dish look so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

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  3. Ohhh, this is such a cool color combination. I bet this is divine.

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  4. I love the color purple, so I will have to make this wonderful veggie gratin. the purple color is so unexpected, but I'm sure that it tastes so good..1

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  5. I love the color of the cauliflower. This sounds good.

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  6. This is such a beautiful dish, I love the purple, it makes the gratin look so elegant!

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  7. I just discovered the purple cauliflower last weekend at the market! well, I'd seen them before, just hadn't ever bought one. I picked one up and have been wondering what to do with it and this looks like it just might please everyone!

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  8. YUM Lora. What a deliciously colorful gratin. Love it.

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  9. What a great idea to use purple cauliflower in the gratin! I just love the colors!

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  10. Wow that purple cauliflower is beautiful! I don't think I've ever tried it. Def will have to give this gratin a try. Looks delicious!

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  11. Lora , not only is it absolutely beautiful with that purple cauliflower peeking out from all the creamy, cheesy goodness, but I have this slotted in for Sundeay dinner with brisket. I'll post a photo on Twitter when I make it - I'm so craving veggie gratins now - how did you know? ;)

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    1. Lisa, baby, you make it then all three of us will have passed the dish around - and can pretend we are sitting down to a meal together :-)

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    2. Yes, Jamie. We could pretend we are all enjoying a meal together. :)

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  12. Lora, cara, bella, I am thrilled that you grabbed something from my blog, out of my kitchen and prepared it for your little family. And I agree with you about sitting down together as a family, enjoying a meal, talking, laughing is such a special moment that should be lived as often as possible. And an earthy, humble, simple yet luxurious Cauliflower Gratin is the perfect family dish. Beautiful, eye-popping color for one of our favorite vegetables! One day we all will enjoy a meal together!

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  13. Such gorgeous color! I've seen it at the supermarkets here but they don't carry it all the time. Gratin looks so comforting, Lora. Besos <3

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  14. Goregous!! I bet my girls owuld love this, thanks for sharing!

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  15. Brava!!! Che bel post!! Mi piace!!!
    Io non festeggio San Valentino, adoro però i cuori tutto l'anno!!! Niente ristoranti affollati, ma tanto amore e calore di casa!!!
    Splendido colore!! Piatto meraviglioso!!!
    Ti mando un bacio grosso grosso!!!!

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    1. grazie, Lory!si...anche qui-tanto amore e calore di casa:)un bacione!

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  16. I love it. I'll bet I could get Dudette to eat zucchini if it was colored purple or blue. How do they come up with these vegetables? Your gratin is perfect; just the right combination of creamy and gooey.

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  17. This really sounds delicious. This was my first visit to your blog, so I took some time to browse through your earlier posts. I'm so glad I did that.I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Mary. I appreciate you coming over and for your compliment:)Have a great rest of the week!

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  18. Goodness! I'm coming over!! I bet there aren't any leftovers though :(

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  19. A fabulous meal with the ones I love is pretty much the perfect meal! I love the popping purple, it really does make me consider actual liking the color purple (I'm a red kinda girl, not a pink and purple girl).

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    1. Red is fun! I agree...nothing beats a great meal with the ones you love:)

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  20. Yum! I'm sitting here drooling ;)

    "Spice it Up"

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  21. Oh yum, what a great side. This is amazing - I never cook with purple cauli but it's so beautiful

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  22. what a gorgeous gratin! the color really pops!

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    1. I agree. The color of the cauliflower is incredible:)

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  23. This is definitely the prettiest gratin I've seen!

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  24. Purple cauli is so darn pretty...love the way it's peaking out from the cheese!

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  25. What a beautiful recipe! I love the pop of color in this delicious dish.

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  26. So pretty! That purple peeking out from under a blanket of cheese, omg... stop me now.

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  27. Gratins are so irresistible! This is so gorgeous with the purple cauliflower! I'm sorry you had problems with my site Lora! I've been having issues. I did some trouble shooting and hope it's cleared up now. xoxo

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  28. I've been wanting to make something with purple cauliflower for a while now (its just so pretty!) and I think this is it! This gratin looks amazing!

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    1. Also, how the heck did you get a reply button on your comments? I've been trying to get one on my own blog for forever now and can't figure out how to do it!

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  29. Great looking gratin, Lora, I could have been happy with it tonight since I didn't cook much:(. Love purple cauliflower!! :) Sounds like a fantastic Valentine's Day.

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  30. Okay, I am so making purple cauliflower this weekend. I kind of forgot about it! It's such a great winter veggie and your recipe looks amazing. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  31. The color is gorgeous!!! I could eat this dish as a main course also. Your "second thought" dinner idea couldn't have been better, although I'm curious about the simple pasta dish also!

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  32. Love this, looks so comforting and perfect for the cool winter months!

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  33. Purple cauliflower could be considered an interesting ingredient. Thank you for posting this recipe.

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  34. Two of my nieces are mad about purple, they'd love the photo of the cauliflower. I love it too and adding in to potato gratin is a great idea! The dish looks really tasty.

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  35. That looks amazing! I so need purple cauliflower in my life.

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  36. Mmm, I lpve purple cauliflower, and this makes the whole dish so colorful :) Looks fantastically yummy.

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  37. i love purple cauliflower. first time I bought it didn't quite know what to expect and since then I rarely buy the white one.
    this dish sounds great Lora! i bet it disappeared in a heart beat!

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  38. I have seen purple cauliflower in our supermarkets here but didn't quite know what to do with it. And your recipe is the answer to my curiosity. I love a good potato gratin, and adding a vege to it is just perfect! xoxo, Jo

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