How to Cook a Light Cauliflower Gratin

by M.H. Dyer

Purchase cream-colored or white cauliflower with bright green leaves.

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Cauliflower's subtle flavor blends well with low-fat cheese and yogurt for a creamy but light cauliflower gratin served as an accompaniment to a healthy main course. Cauliflower, related to broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, is a low-calorie food with only 21 calories per 1/2-cup serving. Cauliflower is also a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C.

Cut or break a head of cauliflower into florets. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring the water to a boil.

Cover the saucepan, then cook the cauliflower for about 8 minutes, or until the florets are firm but slightly tender. Don't overcook, as the cauliflower will finish cooking during baking.

Drain the cauliflower, then rinse the flowers in cool water to prevent further cooking. Place the drained cauliflower in a casserole dish coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Heat a small amount of canola oil or olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute a chopped onion and one or two minced garlic cloves in the hot oil. You can also substitute chopped shallots or leeks for green onions, as both have a mild flavor similar to onions.

Place 1 cup of grated cheese in a mixing bowl. If you prefer cheddar, use a reduced-fat variety. Alternatively, use a lower-fat cheese such as skim milk mozzarella or 2 percent Colby or Monterey Jack cheese or a combination of cheeses.

Blend an 8-oz. container of plain, fat-free or reduced-fat yogurt with the grated cheese. Stir in seasonings of your choice, such as cayenne pepper, nutmeg, thyme, freshly ground black pepper, chopped, fresh parsley or chopped, fresh chives.

Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the cauliflower in the casserole dish. Sprinkle a small amount of breadcrumbs over the top of the cauliflower gratin. Use whole grain breadcrumbs for extra fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, then bake the cauliflower gratin for about an hour, or until the gratin is bubbly -- about 10 minutes. If you like, put the cauliflower gratin under a hot broiler for one or two minutes to brown the top of the dish.

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About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.