Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Cauliflower and Ham au Gratin

Thanksgiving, or Turkey Day as we liked to call it in my house growing up, is just around the corner. All of you are probably starting to plan your menu, if you haven't done it already. Well before you finalize your grocery list, I have a suggestion for a new side dish. How about trying this Cauliflower and Ham au Gratin recipe, inspired by Rachael Ray! Generally, I like to stick to the same Thanksgiving menu year after year. The family tends to count on certain dishes and I can't stand to see a frowny face. Therefore, I won't change my menu, I will just add on to it. When you see how easy it is, you will see why I am not crazy for wanting to add yet another dish to an already busy day in the kitchen.

Serves 6


  • Sea salt and black or white pepper

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds), trimmed into florets and bite-size stems

  • 1 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" (regular or light) OR EVOO 

  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped

  • 2 rounded tablespoons flour

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1 1/4 cups FAT FREE Half & Half

  • Freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 (16-ounce) container FAT FREE cottage cheese

  • 1/2 pound JENNIE-O Turkey Ham (comes fully cooked); cubed into small pieces 

  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

  • A generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped


    Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 500°. In a large pot, bring a few inches of water to a boil, salt it, add the cauliflower and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.

    Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt the "ICBINB" or heat the EVOO over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine, then the milk (or half & half); heat through and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the mustard and cottage cheese until melted, then remove from the heat.

    Stir the ham and the cheese sauce into the cauliflower, then transfer to a large, shallow casserole. Top with the parmigiano-reggiano and bake until brown and bubbly, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the parsley.


    Normally, when Hubby likes a dish, his response is something along the lines of, "Wow! This is awesome!" When it is really good, I may not even get a verbal response, but more of a sound affect that signifies approval. With this dish, I received none of the above. I got a, "Mmmm..this is different." This is different? What does that mean? Different-good? Different-bad? After giving him a second, he assured me that his response meant it was different, yet in a good way. Good answer, Rudy. But seriously, he was right.

    I would have to agree with Rudy here. It does have a different taste, but it is quite good. The wine and the mustard give you a taste that you aren't expecting if you weren't the one making it. Having been the cook, I was prepared for the flavors and was very happy with the results. We don't eat much cauliflower around here, so it is nice to have a dish add a little excitement to it.

    Rachael's recipe called for 4 ounces of Gruyere cheese, which I substituted with 16-ounces of 1% cottage cheese. Gruyere cheese is a hard, white cheese that typically doesn't come in a low-fat version; at least not where I'm shopping. Also, at $10 a block, it can be pretty pricey as well. Instead, for around $2 and 6 grams of fat, I was able to add some creamy, cheesiness without blowing my financial or nutritional budget. Another idea, which I have not yet tried, would be to use fat free cream cheese instead of the Gruyere (You all know how I LOVE my PHILLY!). If you decide to try it with the cream cheese, please be sure to let me know how it worked out.

    I have a couple more possible Thanksgiving Day menu items to try out; including a yummy-lookin' Toasted Cornbread, Bacon and Chestnut Stuffing. Be sure to check back in and see if it would be a good fit for your Thanksgiving menu too!

    NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 213.67 calories;  4.33g fat; 21.28g carbohydrate;  20.31g protein;  3.65g fiber

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