Monday, June 27, 2011

A good recipe for evil vegetables.

Personally, I cannot stand cauliflower or brussel sprouts; I don't like their look, texture, flavor; I like nothing about them. However, my hubby and his mom like the little devils, so I like to come up with different ways to serve them.

Cauliflower is in the same plant species as broccoli, but we can recognize it by its whitish coloring and “brainy” appearance. The white variety is more common, is high in dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate; and studies have related it to reducing the risk of prostate cancer. Producers of cauliflower have created hybrids: Orange (high in vitamin A), Green (combination of cauliflower with broccoli) and Purple (higher in antioxidants).

While cauliflower can be roasted, fried, steamed, microwaved or boiled; steaming and microwaving retain the nutrients better than the other methods of cooking, especially boiling. Cauliflower can be substituted for potatoes as it gives the same texture and mouth feel, minus the starch. However, this vegetable can be very bland and/or bitter, so it is usually served with a sauce of some type; butter or cheese being the most popular.

Brussel Sprouts are part of the cabbage family; growing on long thick stems and requiring cool weather. They are best harvested when the heads are small and compact. Nutritionally they are high in fiber, protein, vitamin A and C, folate and potassium; they are linked to reducing the risk of cancer. Most cooks boil brussel spouts and tend to overcook them, so they lose their bright green color and the nutrients. However, they can be roasted, or used in a stir fry if quartered. As with cauliflower, brussel sprouts can be bitter and are also served, usually, in a butter sauce.

Since I was barbequing yesterday, I did want to serve a vegetable dish with the meat and chicken, but wanted something different than the usual pototoes or corn on the cob. Instead of using potatoes to make a gratin, I used cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Considering I caught Roy eating the leftovers in the middle of the night, I would say that it came out well. He said that the tanginess from the goat cheese really set this apart from other cheese based dishes.

Evil Veggie Gratin


3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 cup half n’ half
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
1 tsp each salt and ground black pepper
2 Tbsp diced fresh chives
1 lb cut up cauliflower
1lb small brussel sprouts; if large, cut in half
3 Tbsp finely grated dried bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 2 qt baking dish with nonstick spray.
In a medium saucepan, medium-high heat, melt butter and stir in flour till smooth; let cook for 5 minutes, but do not let burn. Gradually whisk in half n’ half; add Swiss and goat cheese and stir until melted; add in seasoning and chives.

Put cauliflower and brussel sprouts into casserole dish; pour cheese mixture over all. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle bread crumbs over top and bake additional 15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Mary Cokenour