Food & dining

The confident cook

Thanksgiving leftover recipe: Turkey cauliflower gratin

Cauliflower and turkey gratin with cheesy panko crumbs
Karoline Boehm-Goodnick for The Boston Globe
Cauliflower and turkey gratin with cheesy panko crumbs

This year, instead of (or maybe in addition to) turkey sandwiches, turkey pot pies, and turkey salads, try this cauliflower gratin with the Thanksgiving leftovers. A bechamel sauce is lightened with cooked cauliflower, onions, and garlic. Begin by removing the core from a head of cauliflower, but don’t discard it. Instead, chop it finely and add enough chopped florets to make 2 cups. These are added to the white sauce and pureed; the rest of the cauliflower, cut into florets, is blanched and mixed with the sauce, along with shredded turkey and Gruyere. It’s all topped with cheesy panko crumbs. After baking, a crunchy golden crust tops a creamy interior.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Cauliflower and turkey gratin
with cheesy panko crumbs

Serves 4

1head cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper, to taste
3tablespoons butter
1onion, chopped
2cloves garlic, finely chopped
1tablespoon flour
½cup white wine
cups milk
½cup heavy cream
1tablespoon Dijon mustard
1cup grated Gruyere
¼cup finely chopped fresh chives
Pinch of ground nutmeg
2cups shredded, cooked turkey
½cup panko breadcrumbs
½cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees.  Have on hand a 9-inch square baking dish. 

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2. Core the cauliflower; cut the head into small florets. Finely chop the core pieces and put them into a 2-cup measure. Finely chop enough of the florets to fill the 2 cups. Leave the remaining florets whole.

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3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the florets (not the chopped pieces in the cup) and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. 

4. In a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the onion, garlic, and the 2 cups of chopped cauliflower.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, or until vegetables are tender.

5. Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the wine and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and cream.  Cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes.

6. Transfer the sauce to a blender with the mustard and puree until smooth. 

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7. Tip the sauce into a large bowl and add the blanched florets, Gruyere, chives, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cooked turkey. Stir well. Transfer to the baking dish. With a spatula, smooth the top.

8. In a small skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Stir in the panko and Parmesan until they are coated with butter. Sprinkle the panko mixture on the baking dish.

9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the mixture is piping hot and golden brown. Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Karoline Boehm Goodnick can be reached at kboehmgoodnick@gmail.com