Side Dishes

Cauliflower Gratin with Bacon and Shallots

I was recently walking in the California Anza Borrego Desert, when I came across a road that was named Frying Pan Road. I am not usually inspired by road signs but this one ignited a fire in me. What should I cook next, another mouth-watering dessert? No, it’s time to make a mouth-watering side dish like Cauliflower Gratin.

Frying Pan

Comfort food at its best! Tender morsels of cauliflower, draped in a cheesy, buttery sauce with a hint of bacon and shallots. Cauliflower Gratin is typically a French recipe made with gruyère cheese, but you could also use other cheeses, such as a mixture of Mozzarella, Provolone and Parmesan.

To make my dish more flavorful, I added shallots and diced bacon pieces. Some recipes call for using breadcrumbs, but other chefs like Jacques Pepin don’t use them in their Cauliflower Gratin recipes. Like Pepin, (dare I compare myself with him?) I’ve left out the breadcrumbs since I felt that the diced bacon pieces already give a bit of crunch to the dish.

 Before I give you my recipe for Cauliflower Gratin, I would like to tell you about the 15 Big-horned sheep that I saw grazing on a hillside overlooking one of the desert canyons. There is no grass for them to eat in the desert so I saw them knock over a barrel cactus with their horns and eat the insides of the cactus. Now that’s being adaptable – no frying pan required!


Cauliflower Gratin with Bacon and Shallots
Serves 5
Cauliflower flavoured with bacon and shallots and topped with a cheesy white sauce.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
  1. 1 cauliflower head (approximately 1 lb or 500 g)
  2. 3 tbsp shallots, finely diced
  3. 2 slices of bacon, cooked and finely diced
  4. 4 tbsp butter
  5. 4 tbsp flour
  6. 1 ½ cups milk
  7. ¾ cups gruyère cheese (or mixture of other white cheeses, such as mozzarella, provolone, etc)
  8. Salt/pepper to taste
  9. ½ cup additional gruyere cheese for the topping
  10. Sprinkle of parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cut the cauliflower into smaller florets, and steam them over a large pot of boiling water fitted with a steamer basket for 5-7 minutes until they are just tender. Place the cauliflower pieces in a shallow baking dish, with the ‘heads’ facing upwards.
  2. Soften the diced shallots in a little butter on the stovetop; microwave the bacon slices on high for several minutes until crisp (but not over-cooked), or alternatively fry the bacon on the stovetop. Dry the bacon pieces on a paper towel and then ‘blitz’ in a food processor for 30 seconds until the bacon is finely diced; set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, stir in the flour until it forms a thick paste. Over medium heat, gradually whisk in the milk until the mixture thickens. Add the ¾ cup gruyère cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour the sauce on top of the cauliflower pieces, top with ½ cup of additional gruyère cheese and then sprinkle with a handful of parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese topping turns a golden brown.
G'day Soufflé

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  • Reply
    John/Kitchen Riffs
    December 26, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I’d love to live on Frying Pan Road! 🙂 Love gratins, although for some reason I rarely make a cauliflower one. And I’ve never used bacon with cauliflower in one. But I will. 🙂 Happy Holidays! See you next year. 🙂
    John/Kitchen Riffs recently posted…Happy Holidays!My Profile

  • Reply
    Joanne T Ferguson
    December 26, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    This looks and sounds delicious Fran! Hope you and your family enjoy the holiday season!

  • Reply
    Melanie @ Melanie Cooks
    December 27, 2015 at 1:50 am

    Frying Pan Road is hilarious! Imagine trying to spell it over the phone when making appointments, etc. 🙂 And your cauliflower gratin looks amazing – so rich!
    Melanie @ Melanie Cooks recently posted…How To Make Crab Cakes That Don’t Fall Apart – Easy RecipeMy Profile

  • Reply
    December 28, 2015 at 9:29 am

    I love that! Frying Pan Road!!!
    Jessica recently posted…Matcha Coconut Tea CookiesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen
    December 29, 2015 at 7:22 am

    This looks healthy and delicious!
    Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen recently posted…A Latin Dinner at Señor Pollo,Scout RallosMy Profile

  • Reply
    Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop
    December 30, 2015 at 1:21 am

    I always wonder how names come about….Frying Pan Road….hmmmm. Glad it inspired you! This gratin sounds delicious! Happy New Year!
    Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop recently posted…Hot ChocolateMy Profile

  • Reply
    Simply Sweet Justice
    February 9, 2016 at 1:32 am

    I’ve made this twice now. So, so good!
    Simply Sweet Justice recently posted…Whole-Grain Sunflower Rye BreadMy Profile

  • Reply
    Jeanette Mann
    September 2, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Made this and it was delish! The finely chopped bacon was the key ingredient. I love your site. You have an excellent eye for good recipes.

    • Reply
      September 3, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Jeanette, thanks so much for the comment and for stopping by my blog. I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe!

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