Baked cauliflower with cauliflower puree

japanese cake

We try to have some vegetable dishes on hand which we can tap into during work weekdays. During the weekend, I usually blanch broccoli and green beans so that we can use them during the week, either as is or by quickly sautéing them in butter as a side. The challenge is always to find new and interesting ways to prepare the veggies. For example we have cooked cauliflower many different ways. But, even so, we were getting into a rut.  (The Japanese expression would be “manmeri” マンネリwhich is reportedly derived from the English word “mannerism”. Certainly “mannerrism” does not have the same usage or meaning as the Japanese word “manmeri”.) So my wife went hunting on the internet to find some inspiration and a different way to prepare cauliflower. She perused many different recipes and came up with her own recipe inspired by several of those she found. It is really good but very visually white. She said she would make some improvements to further perfect this recipe. It is essentially au gratin dish made out of baked cauliflower and onion and instead of béchamel sauce, she used cauliflower puree. She also added panko crumbs with olive oil and chopped parsley on the top.

The Panko crust gave nice crunchy layer which contrasted with creamy puree underneath. The cauliflower florets were a bit too soft and we will improve on this next time.


Cauliflower, one large head, separated into florets (#1).

Onion, two medium, cut into thin (1/4 inch) rings.

Garlic, several gloves skin still intact

Milk, 1-2 cups (see direction below).

Butter, 1 tbs

Red pepper flakes

Juice of one lemon


1. Place a bit more than half of the cauliflower florets, the onion, and garlic on a cookie sheet, add several tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and coat all vegetables well (#2) and bake it in a 375F preheated oven for 30 minutes mixing once during the baking until some brown spots appear on the cauliflower.

2. Place the remaining cauliflower in a sauce pan and add milk to cover, pepper flakes and the butter. Simmer until the cauliflower is soft (#4) (yes we noticed picture 3 is missing but for various reasons it will stay that way).

3. Strain the cauliflower (#5) reserving the liquid (#5).

4. Add some of the baked onion and garlic (skin removed) (#7) to the strained milk cauliflower (#6).

5.  Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid and the vegetables into the blending cup and puree using an immersion blender. Add more reserved liquid until the consistency of béchamel sauce is reached(#8). Taste and season with salt and white pepper.

6. In a small ramekin, place the baked cauliflower, onion, and any remaining roasted garlic (#9) and cover them with the puree (#10). Drizzle on some lemon juice if desired. 

7. Cover the surface with a mixture of Panko bred crumbs with olive oil (mix well using finger tips) and bake it in 400F oven until brown (#11).

The cauliflower puree is really silky and luscious. It tasted like a very rich béchamel. I can envision many other uses for this concoction. The combination of texture and flavor in this dish is really good. This time, the baked cauliflower was a bit over done but next time, my wife said she would bake it at a higher temperature (400F) and for shorter time to make the cauliflower more crisp with brown spots. The baked onions gave it rich sweetness and the garlic was done perfectly adding another flavor dimension.  

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