Broccoli and cauliflower, those winter staples, are far more interesting combined than when served alone. In this recipe the tender florets, which are available fresh and conveniently packaged in many supermarkets, are arranged in individual baking dishes and topped with a rich Cheddar sauce, infused with lemon. These little gratins would make a distinctive side to roast chicken or leg of lamb, or just about any beef roast.
This recipe is from Sunday Casseroles: Complete Comfort in One Dish. Click here to buy a copy.
You can make this recipe in a single dish. Use a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and arrange the vegetables in a single layer. Proceed with the recipe and bake for about 30 minutes.
To Make Toasted Bread Crumbs: Use a one- to two-day-old loaf of good-quality artisan-style country bread with the crusts removed. Sourdough works particularly well, but whole wheat, multigrain, and rye are good, too. Process enough slices or pieces in a food processor to make 1 cup of coarse crumbs. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium, heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the crumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until they are crisp and rich golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. You can also use unsalted butter instead of the olive oil. The toasted bread crumbs can be stored in a plastic self-sealing bag and refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously butter four 5½-inch gratin or crème brûlée dishes and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.
Add 2 teaspoons of salt to a large saucepan of boiling water. Add the cauliflower and broccoli florets and cook until the veg¬etables are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 5 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander under cold running water until they are cool; pat dry.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1½ to 2 minutes. Gradually pour in the milk and whisk con¬stantly until the sauce thickens and comes to a gentle boil, 5 to 6 minutes. Gradually whisk in 1¼ cups of the Cheddar, the lemon zest, mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and the cay¬enne. Season with more salt if needed.
Alternate the broccoli and cauliflower florets in single layers in each gratin dish and salt lightly (you may have extra flo¬rets, depending on the size of your dishes). Pour one-fourth of the sauce over the vegetables in each dish. The gratins can be prepared up to this point 3 hours ahead; just cool, cover, and refrigerate. Then, bring them to room temperature before continu¬ing with the recipe.
Sprinkle the top of each gratin with 1 tablespoon of the remaining Cheddar and 1½ teaspoon of the bread crumbs. Bake the gratins until the cheese has melted on the top and the vegetables are hot, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.