A few years ago I embraced low-carb eating because of a serious health issue that had developed. It was a little difficult to do at first, but my concern over the problem that had developed with my thyroid created an urgency that I had to address.
After eating this way for a month, I became lighter and leaner. Over the years, I picked up a few weight loss and have come to the realization that there is no reason for any of us to be overweight, if we stick to a few basic principles. Most people will say that moderation is key, and I think that’s great if that works for you, but I’ve always enjoyed food and it’s hard for me just to eat one bite and push the rest aside…especially if it is something that I really enjoy.
Nowadays, when it comes to food, I eat what I want and as much of it as I want. I follow the basic principles that I have learned along the way and they help me to stay where I need to be.
One of the dishes that I re-created was a vegetable gratin. This was something my aunt would make for us, and it was always so delicious that I got hooked. She would make a moderately thick white sauce using a roux base (with flour), and then she would add cheese to it to make a thick sauce that she would pour over the vegetables. When I began to follow a low-carb way of life, I need to find a way to continue making this dish.
As a result, I created this delicious white cheese base that can be used for so many different things. You can use it to make a gratin with just about any type of vegetable, and it’s something the kids will definitely enjoy because it’s so creamy and full of flavor. It’s almost hard to believe that it doesn’t have any flour or cornstarch in it, so it’s also a great sauce for those who follow a gluten free diet, where any amount of flour could be life threatening.
I steam the cauliflower ahead of time while I prepare the sauce. It comes together very quickly and you need simply add everything to your dish and bake it. It’s that easy. I’ve enjoyed this as a side dish at breakfast, lunch and dinner and even love to have a steaming bowl of it as a snack. Once you start making this, I will guarantee that you will be thinking of ways t make it over and over again.
Cheesy Vegetable Gratin (9 x 9 glass dish)
1 medium head of cauliflower (or broccoli, squash, brussel sprouts)
3 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
1- 8oz packet Philly cream cheese
2 ¾ cup finely grated good quality parmesan cheese (reserve ¾ cup)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon white pepper (more if you like)
½-1 teaspoon salt (add last after it has thickened)
First, rinse the cauliflower and cut into small pieces using only the small florets. I don’t use the thick stalks, but you can include them if you like. Add them to your colander over some hot water and steam for about 10 minutes until tender but NOT mushy. Remember that they will continue to cook while they bake in the oven.
While the cauliflower is steaming, start preparing your white sauce. Add the 3 cups of milk to a medium sized pot with the bay leaf and heat. Once it has scalded, add the pieces of cream cheese to it and whisk until it has melted. Slowly add 2 cups of the grated parmesan cheese to the sauce a little at a time until it has all incorporated. Cook this for about 15 minutes until it has thickened, it should coat the back of a spoon. Taste for salt and pepper, but do not add too much because the sauce will still reduce and thicken in the oven and the cheese adds a lovely saltiness and nuttiness. Lastly add the nutmeg and set aside.
Grease a 9 x 9 glass dish and add the steamed cauliflower to the dish and pour over the thickened cheese sauce. Top the entire dish with the rest of the grated parmesan (3/4 cup) and bake in a 350°F oven until it is golden brown on top and bubbly around the edges. Allow to rest at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before serving for the sauce to thicken.