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Brussels sprouts & cauliflower gratin topped with panko+nuts

Hellllooo, Winter! Brussels sprouts and cauliflower star in this cheesy, creamy seasonal dish. Mine is a somewhat lighter version of the Epicurious recipe, taking copious hints from comments mentioning how heavy the original felt. Already crisp panko breadcrumbs gave me a head-start, so I didn’t need to fry the topping. I also added cornstarch to the cheese for additional binding power.

Adapted from Epicurious’s Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Pine Nut Breadcrumb Topping.

For cooking ahead, you can stop at a couple of points. Before adding the sauce near the end of step 7, put everything in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake; add an additional 10 to 20 minutes to the first baking period at 375ºF. Or, pause at the end of step 8, which is handy for taking to another location with an oven (such as a friend’s potluck!): just carry the hot, covered casserole in a towel-layered box so you don’t spill or burn yourself. Then continue with step 9 once you’re at your final destination.

Filling ingredients

  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds cauliflower, cut into 3/4 to 1 inch florets and stems
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound shallots, diced small
  • a pinch of dried thyme
  • salt, for salting the boiling water (step 3), and to taste (step 4)
  • (optional) zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 to 4 1/2 ounces grated cheese; I used a mixture of Parmesan Reggiano and aged Ewephoria, a sheep’s milk Gouda.
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • olive oil
  • black pepper, to taste

Topping ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts, chopped almonds or cashews
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced


  1. Grease a large casserole dish with olive oil; I used 11 by 15 inch Pyrex dish (4 quarts). Preheat the oven to 375ºF degrees; I used the “convection bake” setting on ours.
  2. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and some water for shocking the vegetables in the next step.
  3. Parboil the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower in the same pot: First, bring salted water in a large pot to boil. Add the sprouts and cook for 2 minutes, then add the cauliflower and allow both to cook for an additional 2 minutes; they should cook until firm (but no longer hard) to the bite. Drain and plonk the vegetables into the bowl of iced water. They can sit there while you prepare the cream sauce and the cheese.
  4. In a medium sauce pan, mix the cream, milk, shallots, thyme and salt. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring and keeping and eye on it so the sauce doesn’t overflow! Reduce to about half to two-thirds the original volume, about 2 1/2 to 3ish cups. Stir in the lemon zest, if using, then set aside to cool a little bit.
  5. Toss the cheese with the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  6. Drain the vegetables into a colander.
  7. Time to assemble! Place half of the vegetables in the casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle half of the cheese + cornstarch. Repeat for the remaining vegetables and cheese + cornstarch. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Finally, pour the cream + shallot sauce evenly over the gratin.
  8. Cover the gratin with foil. Bake for 15 minutes at 375ºF, then reduce the oven temperature to 360ºF for 25 minutes. The sauce + cheese should become bubbly and the vegetables tender but not completely mushy.
  9. While the covered gratin is baking, mix together the topping ingredients in a medium bowl. The panko should become evenly coated with the oil.
  10. Remove gratin from the oven and remove its foil cover. Sprinkle the panko topping evenly over the top. Bump the temperature back to 375ºF degrees and bake until the top is golden brown, about 10 to 15 more minutes.
  11. Cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

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