Cauliflower Gratin With Mornay Sauce

October 13, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This painfully simple cauliflower preparation is smothered in Mornay sauce, which itself is an adaptation of the classic French béchamel sauce. Mornay may sound intimidating to make, but I promise that it’s a nice way to ease yourself into the world of sauces. First you make béchamel, which involves whisking together butter, flour, and half-and-half until it’s just barely boiling. To turn this into Mornay, simply add in a touch of cream, an egg yolk, and some mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. —Vicky | Things I Made Today

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Vicky is the author of the blog Things I Made Today and lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and son.
WHAT: A grown-up macaroni and cheese that trades in macaroni for cauliflower.
HOW: Take béchamel one step further by adding Parmesan and turning it into Mornay. Spread the sauce along the bottom of a small baking dish, then layer with cauliflower, chopped hazelnuts, and Parmesan. Bake until golden brown, and the smell emanating from your oven becomes too good to resist.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Did we already mention that it's grown-up mac n' cheese? This dish makes us feel like kids again, scraping the sides for crispy edges and sneaking forkfuls straight from the gooey, cheesy middle. The cauliflower soaks in the mozzarella- and Parmesan-based sauce, made even more flavorful by a pinch of nutmeg. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the Mornay sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For the cauliflower gratin:
  • 2 1/2 pounds cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  1. Make the Mornay Sauce: Melt butter in a small pot over medium heat, then add flour and whisk. Add in half-and-half, whisking constantly, until it just starts to boil. Stir in mozzarella and continue to whisk until melted and the sauce starts to thicken, about 3 minutes. Add salt and nutmeg.
  2. Remove sauce from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in egg yolk, heavy cream, Parmesan, and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oven to 400º F. Meanwhile arrange the gratin: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets, cover with lid, and cook for 6 minutes. Drain the cauliflower and run them under cold water. Transfer florets to a paper towel-lined plate to dry.
  4. Coat the bottom of a 10-inch square or similar baking dish with a thin layer of Mornay sauce. Arrange cauliflower florets on top of sauce and top with the remaining Mornay. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts and Parmesan on top.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes. Turn broiler onto high and cook until top starts to brown, about 5 minutes.

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  • Lorrie Hanawalt
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2 Reviews

Lorrie H. February 29, 2020
This was everything I hoped it would be. So Good! I think I might have cooked the cauliflower a bit too much or maybe an ice bath to cool it down faster would have been helpful, but other than that it was perfection.
M.Dumont February 18, 2019
Wonderfull! Even better if you add large shrimps to the mixture.