We went there to represent Good Commons at Edible Escapes, a food and travel fair hosted by Edible Manhattan magazine.
Since there were so many goodies on offer, we took turns manning the table to go check out the other treats. One of my favorites was a creamy cauliflower gratin served by the folks representing Organic Valley dairy. In fact, the gratin was so good, that I found myself craving it for days after.
butternut squash mac and cheese of creating a creamy base out of vegetable puree instead of a roux.
I gave it a shot and was pleased to find that it worked beautifully!
Even my butternut squash-hating husband loved the results!
Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Gratin
1 3lb head cauliflower, cut into florets (cut stems into smaller pieces and include them, too)
1 1lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you'd like additional heat)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (can also use gruyere, fontina, or other semi-soft cheese)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (or regular plain bread crumbs)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the cauliflower and butternut squash. Let boil for about 6 minutes or until the squash and cauliflower are fork tender. Drain and divide the squash and cauliflower (you can also cook them separately, but this saves water).
Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet, pat dry, and place in the oven for 2-3 minutes, just to remove some of the excess moisture. Remove from oven and set aside.
Puree the cooked butternut squash in a blender or food processor, then add to a large pot over medium heat. Add the heavy cream, mustard powder, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper and stir to combine. Let simmer for a few minutes, then add the grated cheese and stir until fully melted.
Pour half the sauce in an 8x11" baking or gratin dish, and then add the cauliflower, spreading it out in an even layer. Top with the rest of the cheese sauce, making sure everything is covered.
Combine the panko, melted butter, and parmesan cheese, then spread over the baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden (you can also pop under a broiler for a few minutes). If you prefer, you can bake this in individual ramekins or bowls.