Friday, November 10, 2017

Joey's Cauliflower and Carrot Gratin

 If there was ever a dish that screams home cooking, it's a casserole. By definition, a casserole is a dish served in the pan in which it was cooked, and it often has meat and vegetables and a crunchy or cheesy topping. That sounds like home cooking to me! For this casserole, there's no meat, but the veggies are a match made in culinary heaven! Who would have ever guessed that something as simple as cauliflower and carrots would go so well together in a casserole???? Well, Pillsbury, for one, which is where I first discovered the recipe.
 But here's the thing.. when I first made Pillsbury's recipe, I found the cheese sauce to be just SO bland. Like, there wasn't really anything special about it. It just tasted like melted American cheese. Now, I love American cheese as much as anyone, but for a casserole to be good enough for Thanksgiving, it needed to be just a little more fabulous, in my humble opinion. So I gave it a little makeover. OMG it was SO much better!!! Clearly, they should have asked my opinion as they were developing this recipe! LOL I'm not even kidding. Just the addition of a couple extra ingredients pushed everything WAY over the top and suddenly now we've gone from boring to showstopper!
 So if you're looking for a new something to add to your Thanksgiving menu, consider giving this one a try! Even if you're not making it for a big holiday meal, it's still easy enough for a simple Sunday supper. This just might become a new favorite!

1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced into thick coins
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
6 tbs butter
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 or 2 two big pinches of dried or fresh thyme leaves
3 tbs flour
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 slices American Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 1/2-quart casserole with cooking spray.
In a large pot, bring about 8 cups of water to a boil. Add carrots and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in 4-quart saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Cook onion in butter about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and thyme. Saute a minute or two longer. Stir in flour, mustard, salt, and pepper with whisk; cook about 1 minute or until bubbly. Slowly stir in milk. Cook and stir until bubbly and slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in cheeses until melted. Stir in carrots and cauliflower. Pour into casserole. In small microwavable bowl, microwave remaining 3 tablespoons butter on high for 1 minute or until melted; stir in bread crumbs. Sprinkle over vegetable mixture. Bake uncovered 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly around edges. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

For a little extra something, add a splash of white wine to your cheese sauce. It will elevate it to "special occasion" status!
Use whatever veggies you like! You could absolutely add broccoli or parsnips or even just baby red potatoes. Anything you like!
Not a fan of American cheese? Use any kind you like? Any cheese that melts really well will work!

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