This creamed cauliflower is another excellent way to enjoy the vegetable. This version is a snap to make with steamed cauliflower florets and a basic white sauce. Add some cayenne pepper to the sauce if you'd like, or made the sauce with a dash of nutmeg.
The cauliflower makes a nice side dish for a holiday meal or Sunday dinner, and there are plenty of ways to elevate the dish with other vegetables and flavors. Replace some of the cauliflower florets with broccoli florets or steamed sliced carrots for extra color and flavor.
To add more flavor to the white sauce, saute a minced clove of garlic and a few tablespoons of chopped shallots in the butter before you add the flour. Or add a tablespoon or two of chopped fresh parsley or chives to the sauce just before it's ready. If you prefer a cheese sauce, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of shredded mild or sharp cheddar cheese or about 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese to the sauce mixture a few minutes before serving. Continue cooking until the cheese has melted and then pour it over the hot drained cauliflower.
A toasted breadcrumb topping is another way to jazz it up. To make the topping, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add 1/2 cup of soft breadcrumbs to the hot melted butter and cook until the crumbs are golden brown. Sprinkle the crumbs over the cauliflower and sauce just before serving.
- 1 medium head cauliflower (or two 10-oz packages frozen cauliflower florets)
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt (plus more, to taste)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- Dash ground black pepper
- Optional: Dash cayenne pepper
- Optional: Dash of nutmeg
- Break the cauliflower into bite-size florets.
- Add water to a large saucepan to a depth of about 2 inches. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets to a steamer basket and place the basket in the pan. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is just tender. Alternatively, put the cauliflower in a microwave-safe container and add about 1 inch of water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cover and microwave for about 4 to 6 minutes.
- Drain the cauliflower and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small (1-quart) saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Whisk the flour into the butter until smooth and well blended. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Gradually add the milk and continue cooking until smooth and thickened, stirring constantly.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne or nutmeg (if using) and then pour over hot drained cauliflower. Gently mix to coat the florets.
Make it a Casserole: Butter a 2-quart casserole and preheat the oven to 375 F. Make the cauliflower and sauce following the instructions and then transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole. Top the casserole with buttered bread crumbs and bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is browned.