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Well, well, what do we have here? That’s right – a meal centered around vegetables! I feel like its been a while, but its just so hard for me to get inspired by veggies this time of year. This dish makes the best of what’s in season with cauliflower and chard. Yes, cauliflower. I know what you’re thinking, but trust me – that cauliflower is getting mixed with cheese and cream sauce. Because cheese and cream sauce can make just about anything taste good.

I’ll admit, I was a littler nervous about how this was going to come out: I figured it would either be totally gross or totally awesome. It was way better than I ever imagined it could be! We both loved it, and I happily gobbled it down while already looking forward to the leftovers. The cauliflower was tender without being mushy, and the chard was slightly bitter in a way that cut through the creamy sauce very nicely (it reminded me of the Brussels sprouts in this dish). If you must, think of this as a grown-up version of macaroni and cheese with cauliflower standing in for the pasta. You wont be disappointed. This is definitely a dish that I’ll be making again and again all winter.

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At first I was planning for this to be a vegetarian dish, but I felt like it needed something to round the flavors out. I added just a tiny bit of cubed ham, and it was PERFECT. It added a touch of smokiness and saltiness and brightened the flavors just enough. Of course if you’d like this to be a vegetarian dish you can leave them ham out. In that case, I would add a few dashes of hot sauce to brighten the flavors.

My only other advice is this – this is not a dish to be gluttonous about. Think about it before you go back for that second helping that you know you really don’t need anyway (this stuff is filling!). If you eat a half head of cauliflower and an equal amount of chard in one sitting, you’ll regret it later. Trust me, I speak from experience.

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Cauliflower and Chard Gratin

  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 1 bunch chard
  • salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 6 oz. ham steak, cubed
  • 3/4 cup shredded gruyere
  • 1 small hand full shredded Romano (about 1 ounce)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 cups nonfat milk
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1 tsp spicy mustard
  • 2 Tbs panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of salted pater to a boil.

Separate the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Add to the boiling water, and cook for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain.

Tear chard into medium pieces. Combine chard, cauliflower, ham, nutmeg, and half the cheese in a casserole pan. Toss well to mix.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk and mustard. Bring to a simmer and cook for a fe minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper, and Pour into the casserole over the vegetables. Top with remaining cheese. Sprinkle breadcrumbs in a thin layer over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese and sauce is bubbly. If needed, broil for the last 5 minutes to help the breadcrumbs crisp.

Serves 6.
Approx. 225 calories, 11 grams fat, 4.3 grams fiber, 18 grams protein


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