Comfort Food Extravaganza: Cauliflower-Pumpkin-Ricotta Gratin
It’s that time of year again…daylight savings is totally messing with my body and making me crave warm, rich comfort food as soon as I drag my sorry butt home from work. I can’t help it, when it gets dark outside at five pm I just go into hibernation mode, aka sweatpants and cheesy food in front of the TV mode. Fortunately I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve when it comes to fall and winter comfort foods so I don’t actually pack on as much weight as a slumbering bear.
For example, cauliflower! It’s such a versatile vegetable. Use it in place of white, starchy carbs like pasta or potatoes and you have a super indulgent and cozy yet much healthier meal. When I was grocery shopping at Central Market last weekend I found some beautiful orange cauliflower on sale (the color is so fun! And it means that the cauliflower is especially high in beta-carotene, the same reasons carrots have that great orange color). I knew I had to do something with it…then orange made me think of pumpkin…I still had some pumpkin puree and ricotta left over from the pumpkin lasagna I made last week… BAM. This recipe was born. It’s way quicker and easier to make than your traditional gratin (which are traditionally creamy dishes topped with browned cheese), not to mention way healthier. And it’s totally creamy and satisfying! You won’t regret this one.
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 head cauliflower (any color you want, but orange and purple are especially fun!)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, y’all)
3/4 cup lowfat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup nonfat or lowfat milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese – I used quattro formaggio but you could also use straight up parm, asiago, or even mozzarella
1-2 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp smoked paprika
Salt & fresh cracked black pepper
Preheat your oven to 375°
Dice the yellow onion and caramelize in the coconut oil for 10 minutes in a large pan over medium heat.
In the meantime, chop up your cauliflower into florets and boil it on the stove for about 4-5 minutes, long enough to soften it but not long enough to make it all mushy. Strain the cauliflower and set it aside.
Scoop your pumpkin and ricotta into the pan with the onions and stir everything together with the milk, adding a little more milk or ricotta until you reach the desired thickness. Add the spices plus salt and pepper to taste—I like a lot of black pepper in this one!
Empty the pan into a baking dish (I used a 10″ cake pan and it worked perfectly) and sprinkle the shredded cheese over everything. Bake your gratin for 30-35 minutes, until the cheese is starting to look brown and gooey on top. Crank up the broiler for the last 2-3 minutes to get that lovely golden brown cheese topping we all know and love, but make sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn!
Let cool for a few minutes, then serve with an extra little dollop of ricotta and a handful of crumbled walnuts on top. Enjoy!