Cauliflower Gratin With Goat Cheese Topping Recipe (2024)

By Martha Rose Shulman

Cauliflower Gratin With Goat Cheese Topping Recipe (1)

Total Time
About 30 minutes
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Cauliflower is at its peak now, from December through March, when produce markets often are otherwise spare, particularly if you happen to live in a northern climate. Like other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is an abundant source of phytonutrients and enzymes that may help neutralize toxins damaging to the body’s cells. It’s an excellent source of vitamins C and K, folate and dietary fiber, and a very good source of vitamins B5 and B6, tryptophan, omega-3 fatty acids and manganese. All are good reasons to include it in your diet.

One more thing: if you have trouble persuading your kids to eat dishes with cooked cauliflower, try serving the florets raw. Even some of the most vegetable-averse kids seem to like it uncooked. Of all of the gratins that I make, this is the easiest to throw together. It works as a vegetarian main dish or as a side.

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Yield:Serves 4

  • 1large or 2 smaller cauliflowers (about 2 pounds), broken into florets
  • 3tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 6ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1plump garlic clove, halved, green shoot removed
  • 5tablespoons low-fat milk
  • 1teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼cup dry, fine breadcrumbs

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

263 calories; 20 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 10 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 11 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 3 grams sugars; 11 grams protein; 714 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Cauliflower Gratin With Goat Cheese Topping Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Oil a two-quart gratin dish with olive oil.

  2. Step


    Place the cauliflower in a steaming basket above one inch of boiling water. Cover and steam for one minute. Lift the lid and allow steam to escape for 15 seconds, then cover again and steam for six to eight minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Remove from the heat and refresh with cold water. Drain on paper towels, then transfer to the gratin dish.

  3. Step


    Season the cauliflower generously with salt and pepper, then toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and half of the thyme. Spread in an even layer.

  4. Step


    Place the garlic in a mortar and pestle with a quarter-teaspoon salt, and mash to a paste. Combine with the goat cheese and milk in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and blend until smooth. Add the remaining thyme and freshly ground pepper to taste, and pulse together. Spread this mixture over the cauliflower in an even layer.

  5. Step


    Just before baking, sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the dish is sizzling. Serve at once.


  • Advance preparation: You can make this through step 3 hours in advance. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate if holding for more than two hours.



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Cooking Notes


Had ingredients on hand. Looked good as well as easy.


No need for paper towels. Drained off in steam basket. Used a garlic press first, then, into mortar w/salt.
Immersible blender for the goat cheese mix in a small saucepan. Added more milk (fat free) & light cream until I liked the consistency.

Panko instead of breadcrumbs. Dotted w/a little butter
Fresh thyme from the garden ... to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste

Nice: can adjust to taste, what's on hand!


Just a comment: do not remove "green shoot" from the clove---don't use a clove with a green shoot in the first place!!!! That's a clove that has started germinating a new plant; it is old, the chemical composition has changed, and the flavor will be a pale shadow of garlic's piquant goodness. Your clove should be juicy and crisp when you cut into it. Kind of surprised the Times wouldn't have caught that.


Very good! Caveat: I modified it based on the ingredients I had on hand. First, I boiled two medium potatoes, mashed them with a fork, mixed them with some salt, pepper, and olive oil, and spread them on the bottom of the dish below the cauliflower. I used feta instead of goat cheese. And because I didn't have bread crumbs, I crumbled a piece of good bread on top and doused it with olive oil. My husband proclaimed this the "top cauliflower recipe" of his life (I agree).


Sub gruyere for goat cheese; cream for milk
Increase cheese? garlic? milk?
May need to broil to brown.
Sauce should be creamy... some wanted more sauce (found dry).

Anita Richmond

You can easily steam your cauliflower with about a half inch of water in the bottom of a bowl. Place your cauliflower in on top of the water, cover with a plate and microwave on high for about three minutes. Also, never buy garlic that has a green sprout. It will be old and bitter. I buy garlic in bulk at Costco and roast it. Then I wrap each bulb in wax paper and freeze it. Roasted garlic is wonderful in this recipe.


Fantastic! My daughter and I made a few modifications because we prefer roasted veggies and to make it an entree:

1. Roast cauliflower (25 minutes at 425) with olive oil, salt, pepper, an smoked paprika,
2. Mash a head of roasted garlic into the sauce.
3. Add a pound of cooked (al dente) penne.
4. Add 8 oz. of cubed smoked ham.

My family was fighting over the last spoonful.

Monica D

Delicious. I increased the milk by about half and liked the quantity and texture of the sauce. I also added in about ½ C of frozen peas with the cauliflower for color. Really wonderful - would consider adding some white beans to the cauliflower and a beaten egg or two to the sauce to make this a main dish. Yum!


I only had about 3oz of goat cheese and used 4 tbs of almond milk for the sauce. I used the full amount of panko. I'm a bit of a health nut, so this ended up being the perfect amount of cheesy goodness without overpowering the cauliflower.


I added a variety of cheeses because that's what I had in the refrigerator (parmigiana, feta, and manchego). Also, had some mashed potatoes and added that. It was very rich and delicious. I also added some carrots.


I found that 9x13 is too large for the amount of cheese topping (and I used a full log of chevre, which is 8oz instead of 6oz, goat milk instead of milk) - it barely covers the cauliflower. Either double cheese mixture or use smaller dish would be my advice.o

Laura G.

The goat cheese/cauli combo drew me to this recipe; while I did embellish it, I like the lightness of the goat cheese/milk combo in contrast to more conventional gruyere/cream. I steamed (to crisp-tender) one head cauliflower, boiled (to firm) some potatoes, then roasted both until just browning. Meantime sautéed two leeks and a seeded red jalapeno. Mixed all with thyme, thinned 8 oz. goat cheese w/milk till greek yogurt consistency and spread over, breadcrumbs on top, baked 20 mins. Delish!


Yes. We did, and it turned out great.


Cauliflower was not covered as much as I would have liked. Taste was great so next time will add more cheese and more liquid to cover the cauliflower better. Also might add some nutmeg.


Made this with cheddar cauliflower and smoked gouda and it was spectacular! Cheddar cauliflower (so named for the color, not the taste), has more beta-carotene than white cauliflower and retains its color when steamed or baked. The smoked gouda added great flavor.

Megan C.

Made this tonight and doubled the sauce. Not good at all. We love all the individual components of this dish but it was still not enough sauce and was bland. And we roasted the cauliflower instead of steaming. Bummer! Love so many NYT dishes usually.

Mark G

Great recipe that really lends itself to customization, such as:- Double the thyme and quadruple the garlic- Try Boursin instead of goat cheese- Try grated parmigiano instead of or in addition to the bread crumbs- Double the sauce for a more decadent, holiday-worthy dish- As noted by other cooks, broil at the end to get a nice golden crust


Lindsay, brilliant! I was snooping around looking for something like this I could incorporate some pumpkin puree! Good call chef...


I made this as written and it was just delicious! Parmesan would, in my humble opinion, clash with the cinnamon and coriander. The goat cheese topping is chewy, tasty perfection.

JC Bishop

Re: Nicole's comment about the garlic- YES YOU CAN TAKE OUT THE GREEN SHOOT!I've been living here in Italy for almost 20 years- Italians call the green shoot the 'anima' and say to remove it as that is what gives some people indigestion. Then use it- the flavor is still amazing. To throw out the whole bulb because it has green shoots is nonsense.


This is not a rich cheese-y gratin. My fault for not thinking though the recipe as written. Reminds me more of a vegetable packed strata subbing cauliflower for bread. That being said, leftovers were very good on toast.


I know that maybe what I've made doesn't resemble the original recipe - who knows? But I made this with some Ryvita crackers mixed with a bit of light butter and herbs as the breadcrumb topping. Combined goat's cheese with a bit of leftover light feta. Added a wee bit of Dijon & light Philadelphia to the mix. Didn't use a food processor because I don't own one - instead melted everything at a low heat. Delish. Perfect for a small-scale Christmas celebration!


Very tasty and easy. I agree with the previous comment; just transfer the steamed cauliflower to the gratin dish. I used panko and added s/p, grated parmesan and some chopped parsley for color. Make this and you won't be disappointed.


Nice recipe! Added mashed potatoes and peas as layers underneath the cauliflower to make this gratin substantial enough to be a main dish. Also substituted feta cheese for goat cheese as I prefer that flavor. Increased the amount of (feta) cheese to 8 oz and 3 additional tablesp of milk. The "sauce" is still very thick. Very tasty and does make a nice boursin-like layer on top. However, next time I might add even more milk so there's more creamy liquid in with the cauliflower.


We made without breadcrumbs, used whole milk instead of low fat, and it was so easy and so good! Definitely one for the regular rotation :-)


Cauliflower is my favorite vegetable. I'd like to make this ahead for our mini Thanksgiving and was hoping I could freeze it. Any thoughts?

Juliet Jones

This worked well for me. I used one medium cauliflower, and an oval shaped baking dish approximately 11 x 7. Panko breadcrumbs would’ve been better than regular ones, for next time. The topping did become creamy enough to spread, after processing thoroughly. I would make this again.


This was simple and good. Used almond milk and worked fine as well as Romanesco Cauliflower.


Delicious and easy, and a fantastic way to use the bounty of breadcrumbs from all of our quarantine bread baking failures.


Made this with cheddar cauliflower and smoked gouda and it was spectacular! Cheddar cauliflower (so named for the color, not the taste), has more beta-carotene than white cauliflower and retains its color when steamed or baked. The smoked gouda added great flavor.

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Cauliflower Gratin With Goat Cheese Topping Recipe (2024)
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