Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cauliflower Gratin with Queso Cotija


Picking up where I left off in sharing our Regional Thankgiving celebration with friends, I also highlighted food inspired by the southwest. This dish was one I found online and really liked how it used cauliflower. Guests at my party raved about this dish so I know this particular recipe is one many are waiting for.

A twist on the usual cheddar cheese, this recipe calls for a Mexican grating cheese, queso cotija. You can find it at any latin/spanish market. If you can't find it, another alternative is using quesadilla cheese or even queso fresco, a Mexican crumbling cheese.

The recipe says to layer the ingrediens in a baking dish but you can also just combine the cauliflower, seasoned cream and peppers in a bowl then place in a dish, topped with the cheese before baking. Either way, it's delicious and it was very easy to prepare, even days in advance!

2 Days Before: Roast the poblano peppers, peel, seed and cut into strips. Cut up cauliflower to prep for boiling.

1 Day Before: Boil cauliflower florets, drain and cool. Assemble dish, cover and chill.

Day Of: Bake in oven and serve.


Cauliflower Gratin with Queso Cotija
recipe adapted from MyRecipes

2 heads cauliflower (3 lb. total), rinsed
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and fresh-ground pepper
1 pound fresh poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips
12 ounces cotija cheese, shredded


In a 6- to 8-quart pan over high heat, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Meanwhile, trim and discard leaves from cauliflower; separate heads into florets. Slice florets 1/4 inch thick. Add sliced cauliflower to boiling water and cook until tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain well.

In a glass measure, stir together cream and cayenne. Line bottom of a shallow 3 1/2- to 4-quart baking dish with a fourth of the cauliflower slices. Drizzle a fourth of the cream mixture over cauliflower. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and top evenly with a fourth of the poblano chile strips and cotija cheese. Repeat three times to layer gratin, ending with cheese.

Bake in a 450° oven until cheese is browned and cauliflower is tender when pierced, about 30 minutes. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.