What side dishes come to mind when you think of Thanksgiving dinner at your house? At my house it’s fresh bread or rolls; candied sweet potatoes with brown sugar; the ubiquitous green bean casserole (or a fresh new twist on this classic casserole); squash of some kind (usually pureed at my house); vegetable gratin (mmm, like this delicious kale gratin); and some version of mashed potatoes.
While these side dishes are delicious, a lot of times, they sneak in wheat or another grain…like a creamy casserole with a white sauce thickened with flour, or veggie gratin with a breadcrumb topping. Since many people these days are finding out that they are gluten-intolerant (and many people are choosing to eat grain-free), I like to have a few grain-free/gluten-free options available.
This lovely dish is grain and gluten-free, but definitely not lacking in flavor…onion, garlic, thyme, and cheese take care of that. It’s super smooth and velvety, like the smoothest mashed potatoes you’ll ever eat, times ten. If you prefer your mashed veggies with a bit of texture, just skip the pureeing step and mash the cauliflower by hand with a potato masher, which makes this dish come together even faster and saves you the work of cleaning the blender or food processor. Either way, this dish is sure to be a hit.
This dish is very rich and with all the other sides present at Thanksgiving dinner, this recipe should serve four to six people. However, if you want to serve it as part of a regular meal where there aren’t ten other side dishes to sample, it will serve about four.
It’s a lovely new item to add to your holiday meal repertoire.
Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower Gratin
Recipe by Faith Gorsky, www.AnEdibleMosaic.com
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
1 lb (450 g) cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the dish
1 medium onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 oz (115 g) reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream (if necessary)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
80 g Emmental cheese (or any Swiss cheese you like), shredded (about 2/3 cup)
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 400F; grease a 1.5-liter gratin dish with butter (or you can use smaller ramekins for individual servings).
Boil or steam the cauliflower until very tender (about 20 minutes boiling or 15 minutes steaming). Drain very well.
Add the butter to a medium skillet over medium heat; add the onion and cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and thyme and cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Turn off heat.
Transfer the drained cauliflower and cream cheese to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. (I used a blender and found that I needed to add 2 tablespoons of liquid for the blades to run properly; I chose cream so it wouldn’t thin out the cauliflower too much.) Add the cream as needed.
Transfer the pureed cauliflower, onion, salt, black pepper, and half the shredded cheese to a large bowl and stir to combine.
Spread the cauliflower mixture in the prepared dish, and sprinkle the remaining cheese and the parsley on top. Bake until warm throughout and the cheese is melted, about 15 to 20 minutes. (If you want, you can run the gratin under the broiler for a couple minutes to brown, but stay with it!)
ABOUT FAITH: Faith Gorsky is the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind the blog An Edible Mosaic, and the cookbook author of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair (Tuttle Publishing; November 2012). She was born, raised, and spent most of her life in Upstate New York, and she currently lives in Kuwait. When it comes to cooking, her favorite thing to do is go into the kitchen hungry, open the fridge, and start creating. She loves to travel, especially to places steeped in rich culture and history. She also enjoys reading (cookbooks mostly), vintage shopping (especially in old markets), watching movies (of all genres), and is enamored with ancient cultures (especially Rome and Egypt).