Weekday Vegetarian: Cauliflower and Chestnut Gratin


Photo: Kelly Rossiter

I was cleaning out my fridge the other day and I had two ingredients that had got pushed to the back after my Thanksgiving dinner party. One was a bag of cauliflower which had already been cleaned and cut into florets and the other was a bowl of roasted chestnuts.

I hate food waste at any time, but especially after all the work that goes into roasting and cleaning chestnuts. I really wanted to find a good use for them, and it occurred to me that I might try combining the two and seeing how they worked together. It turns out they are delicious together.
Photo: Kelly Rossiter

I just made a simple bechamel sauce and poured it over the cauliflower and chestnuts and baked it. It worked perfectly. The sweetness of the chestnuts really came out, the cauliflower was quite mellow tasting and it formed a tasty crust on it. The measurements are approximate, because I was really just winging it. The amount of liquid you put into the bechamel really depends on how thick you want it. I also made it for 2, so if you make if for more people, adjust accordingly.

Cauliflower Chestnut Gratin

1 cup cauliflower florets
6 chestnuts, roughly chopped
1 - 2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 - 3/4 cup of half and half cream, or milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, more for topping
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp breadcrumbs

1. In a medium-sized pot, add cauliflower to boiling water and par boil for about 3-4 minutes. Drain and place in an oven-proof bowl along with the chestnuts. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 375F.

3. In a small pot melt butter. Place the flour at the edge of the pot and, using a wooden spoon, incorporate it slowly into the butter, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring constantly for a minute or two. Very slowly add the cream stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon or a wire whisk. Continue to stir as the sauce thickens to prevent lumping. Once the sauce has reached the desired consistency, add the mustard, cheese and season for salt and pepper.

3. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and chestnuts and stir to coat them evenly. Add a bit of grated Parmesan cheese on top, if desired and and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 or 25 minutes.

More Chestnut Recipes
Chestnut Soup
Bourguignon of Chestnuts, Mushrooms and Roasted Garlic
Chestnut Ravioli with Sage Browned Butter

Tags: Weekday Vegetarian