Cauliflower and Farro Gratin

Cauliflower and Farro Gratin | Ingredient Spotlight | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang

Our next ingredient spotlight is going to be on cauliflower (thanks to a request from one of our favorite readers and also BFF Markell Lewis). We’re kicking it off with the richest and heartiest preparation.

As a huge Nancy Silverton fan, I was pretty stoked when Pizzeria Mozza opened in Los Angeles a few years ago. I was a bit of a crazy restaurant foodie at the time and road tripped down to LA and lined up immediately. I recruited several family members along for the meal so we could sample a larger spread. I think we ended up with one of every pizza on the menu. Thanks to Silverton, the crusts were all amazing – perfectly charred and crispy yet chewy as you got into it. The surprise however was that none of the half a dozen or so pizzas we ordered ended being my favorite dish of the meal. The star of that meal actually was an appetizer, a rich and decadent cauliflower and farro gratin. I never really thought of cauliflower as a rich ingredient but tossed with oil and layered under bubbling cheese, I guess any vegetable can become rich. I had also never seen farro in a gratin, but the chewier texture of the farro provided a great contrast to all the creaminess. This appetizer no longer appears on the menu, but luckily gratins are just another cooking formula (one we will feature very soon), so it was quite simple to figure out how to make this dish at home, in a much larger serving size. Also parents of kids in their no-veggies phase, give this gratin a try. The cauliflower literally melts in with all the other ingredients and can barely be identified as one of those “icky”-vegetables. And if they refuse it, more for you! Recipe and photo recipe below:

Cauliflower and Farro Gratin
Serves: 6 as a side
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of farro
  • 2 tbs of butter
  • 2 tbs of flour
  • 2 cups of milk (non-fat to whole are all fine)
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 4 to 6 oz. gruyere (depends on your cheesiness level)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. [img src=”http://www.cooksmarts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-01-650×478.jpg” width=”650″ height=”478″ class=”aligncenter size-large” title=”20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-01″ alt=”Cauliflower and Farro Gratin | Ingredient Spotlight | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang”]
Prep (can be prepped up to 5 days ahead)
  1. Farro: Farro can be cooked beforehand; Bring 1 quart (4 cups) of water to boil; Season with salt and add farro; Turn heat down to a medium flame and boil like pasta until the farro is al dente – softened but will with a chewy bit to it (about 20 to 25 minutes); Drain
  2. Cauliflower: Rinse cauliflower; Remove florets from stems; Chop florets into smaller bit sized pieces; Keep the thicker stems for a soup (which we’ll feature as our next cauliflower recipe)
  3. Gruyere: Grate gruyere
  4. Place everything in separate air-tight containers / bags and refrigerate
Make
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Prepare farro (directions above) if you haven’t done so [img src=”http://www.cooksmarts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-02-650×432.jpg” width=”650″ height=”432″ class=”aligncenter size-large” title=”20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-02″ alt=”Cauliflower and Farro Gratin | Ingredient Spotlight | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang”]
  3. Make a roux by heating a small saucepan over medium heat. Melt butter, then whisk in flour until it forms a thick paste. Slowly drizzle in milk and whisk it into the butter and flour mixture. Let mixture simmer and thicken over the heat, stirring every so often with the whisk. When the mixture has reached a thick consistency (similar to a yogurt), take off stove, and add some salt and a pinch of nutmeg [img src=”http://www.cooksmarts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-03-650×431.jpg” width=”650″ height=”431″ class=”aligncenter size-large” title=”20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-03″ alt=”Cauliflower and Farro Gratin | Ingredient Spotlight | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang”]
  4. Prepare cauliflower (directions) above if you haven’t done so while roux is thickening. Toss cauliflower with about 1 tbs of olive oil and some salt and pepper [img src=”http://www.cooksmarts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-04-650×430.jpg” width=”650″ height=”430″ class=”aligncenter size-large” title=”20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-04″ alt=”Cauliflower and Farro Gratin | Ingredient Spotlight | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang”]
  5. Grate gruyere if you haven’t already done so [img src=”http://www.cooksmarts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-05-650×430.jpg” width=”650″ height=”430″ class=”aligncenter size-large” title=”20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-05″ alt=”Cauliflower and Farro Gratin | Ingredient Spotlight | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang”]
  6. Lightly grease a medium-sized oven-safe baker / pan (e.g., 9×9 Pyrex pan) with olive oil. Assemble ingredients in the following order: cauliflower, cheese, farro, roux. [img src=”http://www.cooksmarts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-06-650×430.jpg” width=”650″ height=”430″ class=”aligncenter size-large” title=”20120306-Cauliflower-Gratin-06″ alt=”Cauliflower and Farro Gratin | Ingredient Spotlight | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang”]
  7. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until top starts to bubble and get a golden color
Serve with something light, like: [br]Fuss-free fish baked in the oven at the same time as the gratin, with a squeeze of lemon [br]Grilled chicken breast marinated in honey-mustard [br]A sweet salad with apples or citrus (because we all know what a great combo fruit and dairy are)
Substitutes and supplements [br]Consider adding some diced onions with the cauliflower or even better caramelized onions as one of the layers [br]Consider adding herbs such as thyme or parsley. Can just be tossed with the cauliflower or served as a garnish [br]No cauliflower? Try other great gratin-ing vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, or even beets
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