I am making a pot roast this week, but my son-in-law is still on his Ketogenic diet and my wife Jan is also watching her starch intake. These restrictions means that I cannot add potatoes to the roast as would be the normal accompaniment to the savory meat. Man does not live on meat alone, but I know a few who have tried.
This leaves me struggling to fill the rib-sticking gap in their diets. I have discovered that cauliflower meets this need quite effectively. It is not starchy, but it is filling and satisfying.
A few weeks ago I made a cauliflower au gratin that my family really liked. Last night I ran into the problem that there were plenty of vegetables in my meal there were not greens. I decided that to make this a more vegetal side dish I would add spinach for the vitamins.
As a further twist, I was going through the WordPress Reader’s “recipes” tag this morning and spotted a picture of roasted garlic. A light went on in my head. My family really likes garlic and it would be a nice addition to a cheese sauce.
Karl’s Cauliflower and Spinach with Garlic au Gratin
10-15 large garlic cloves
1 tsp. olive oil
1 cauliflower, small
6 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
2 sprigs lemon thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. black pepper, fresh ground
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¾ lb. spinach
Karl’s Garlic au Gratin Sauce
3 Tbs. butter (or oil)
3 Tbs. flour
1¾ cup milk
(15 cloves roasted garlic)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ lb. Gruyére, grated, separate uses
¼ tsp. black pepper
Pinch nutmeg, fresh grated, separate uses
Pinch Kosher salt
2 Tbs. snipped chives
1. Put the garlic in a small oven save bowl with a lid and drizzle it with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 350° F. Cook the garlic until they are soft and light golden brown. Mash the roasted garlic and reserve until you are ready to make the au gratin sauce.
Tip: Although the garlic is part of the sauce, you need to roast it about an hour before starting to cook the rest of the dish. If you are making roasted meat use whatever temperature the oven is set to and adjust the time accordingly.
2. Remove the leaves and toughest part of the stem from the cauliflower, break it into large florets.
3. Put the cauliflower in a large pot and add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf, pepper, and water to cover.
4. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the temperature to medium low. Simmer until the cauliflower is ¾ done (about 8-10 minutes).
5. Transfer the cauliflower to a plate to cool slightly. Reserve and strain the cooking liquid.
6. Return the liquid to the pot and add the spinach.
7. Blanch the spinach for 2 minutes and then place it in the ice water to stop it from over cooking.
8. Drain the water and taking a fist full of spinach squeeze as much water out as you can. Repeat until all of the spinach is dry and you have several ‘sausages’ of spinach.
9. Slice the spinach ‘sausages’ finely. Fluff the spinach slightly to break it up and return it to the bowl.
10. In a small pot, add the butter and flour and cook stirring constantly until lightly browned.
Tip: Cooking grease and flour is called a roux. Although this is usually done with butter you can use any form of fat.
11. Add the roasted garlic to the roux. Sauté for 15 seconds more.
12. Add the milk, a bit at a time, and continue stirring until the sauce has started to thicken.
13. Stir in the mustard.
14. Reserve ½ cup of the cheese and add the rest, a bit at a time, to the pot, stirring constantly.
15. When the cheese is almost completely melted, add the pepper, nutmeg, and salt. Continue stirring to mix.
16. Chop the cauliflower into small florets and mix it with the spinach in a large bowl.
17. Pour ¾ of the cheese sauce over all and fold gently to mix.
18. Pour the mixture into a large Pam-ed baking dish.
19. Spread the last of the cheese sauce over all and put the baking dish into a 500º F oven for about 10 minutes.
20. Remove the baking dish from the oven and sprinkle the reserved cheese on top.
21. Return it to the oven and switch the oven from bake to broil. Broil until the cheese is starting to brown well (about another 10 minutes).
22. Garnish with the chives, a few gratings of fresh nutmeg and serve.