Romanesco and Cauliflower Gratin with Swiss/Gruyere Cauliflower Mornay Sauce

Romanesco and Cauliflower Gratin with Swiss/Gruyere Cauliflower Mornay Sauce

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


Henry Ford once said regarding his Model T cars that “You can have any color you want as long as it is black!”

When most people think of cauliflower they think of the ubiquitous white variety but did you know that it is available in purple, orange, and green as well?  We grow and offer all of these, including white, and once we find blue and red we will have covered all the colors of the rainbow.

In this recipe, we combine all four for a crazy colorful, delicious, and very cheesy gluten-free gratin.


Most gratin recipes include ingredients that essentially make up a Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel sauce with cheese. Béchamel is one of the five classic “mother” sauces in Western cooking; butter and flour (to make the roux), and hot milk or cream.

We left out the butter and replaced the flour with the white cauliflower, cooked it in half and half, pureed the mixture to make our gluten-free Béchamel sauce, then added a 50/50 mix of Swiss and Gruyere cheese to complete the alteration to a Mornay sauce.  There are a couple of other steps involved in getting to that point but you may see them in the recipe below.


Miz for Romanesco and cauliflower gratin with cauliflower and cheese bechamel-5056-2.jpg

  • 9 + 2 cups cauliflower florets
    • 3 cups Romanesco
    • 3 cups purple
    • 3 cups orange
    • 2 cups white (to use in the Mornay sauce)
  • 2 + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (to coat the baking or casserole dish, and to drizzle over the finished gratin)
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 2 + 1 cup 50/50 grated Swiss and Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup white wine (preferably an oaky chardonnay)
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste (optional as the Mornay sauce will have black pepper in it)



  • Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch by 11 inch baking or casserole dish with the olive oil; set aside.
  • Wash the heads of cauliflower, drain, cut florets into bite sized pieces, place into baking or casserole dish; set aside.
  • Peel the shallots and garlic, slice thinly; set aside.
  • Grate the cheese if not already grated; set aside.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F, place rack on middle level.


  • Mornay sauce:
    • Add the wine, shallots, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, and sprigs of thyme into a straight-sided, shallow sauce or frying pan (top row left photo), bring to a simmer, cook until it is “just dry” or in culinary terms “au sec”, which means “just dry” (top row right photo).
      • Note:  You have to watch the pan like a hawk as the wine starts to reduce.  It will go from just dry to just burnt in a second.
    • Add the half and half, stir, cook for 10 minutes to become infused with the flavor of the wine, herbs, and aromatics (2nd row left photo).
    • Strain the half and half into a medium saucepan (2nd row center photo), return to a simmer.
    • Add the white cauliflower florets (2nd row right photo), then the grated nutmeg (3rd row left photo), simmer for 15 minutes.
    • Pour the contents into a high-speed blender and puree until smooth, return the pureed mixture to the sauce pot (3rd row center photo), return to a simmer.
    • At this point, you have a “faux” Béchamel.
    • Add the cheeses (3rd row right photo), cook until melted.
    • Now you have a Mornay sauce!


  • Gratin:
    • Pour the Mornay sauce over the cauliflower florets in the baking dish, sprinkle the rest of the cheeses, and some freshly ground black pepper if desired.
    • Cover with aluminum foil and place on the middle rack in an oven preheated to 350F, bake for 45 minutes, uncover, add the rest of the grated cheese, and raise the setting of the oven to Broil, to caramelize the cheese on top (about 10 to 15 minutes).
    • Your Romanesco and cauliflower gratin with Swiss/Gruyere and cauliflower Mornay sauce is done!



Romanesco and Cauliflower Gratin with Swiss/Gruyere Cauliflower Mornay Sauce


If you have leftover cauliflower or cheese try this quick recipe for roasted cauliflower with sweet peppers, Swiss and Gruyere cheese!

  • Pre-heat oven to broil, place rack on the top level.
  • Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, place on a baking tray.
  • Wash sweet peppers, cut into large dice, place on the baking tray.
  • Peel garlic, crush, slice or leave whole, place on the baking tray.
  • Drizzle 1-2 tbs olive oil, season with kosher salt and black pepper, mix well.
  • Place on top rack in the pre-heated oven, cook until caramelized.
  • Remove from the oven, spoon onto a serving tray and sprinkle grated cheese on top.
  • Enjoy!


This is work done for Worden Farm’s new blog,  Reposted with their permission.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Wow, so vibrant and wonderful. That is a gratin like I have never seen it before (:

    Liked by 1 person

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