So the flowers I’m talking about here are cauliflowers. I suppose you could make a garland to wear on your head of cauliflowers. It seems a bit excessive, maybe even dangerous. I’m suggesting you make a delicious gratin and take it to a Beltane potluck to share with friends and loved ones. Of course, you can make this on any old Tuesday afternoon as well and not share it with anyone.
Cauliflowers and Cheese
Okay. Stay with me here. I realize you might not associate cauliflowers and cheese with Beltane. It’s a tenuous connection, I’ll grant you that. Cauliflowers have the word “flower” in them. That’s enough of a link for me. The cheese I use in this recipe is sheep’s milk cheese. I associate sheep with spring. There. That’s why this is a Beltane potluck recipe.
Cauliflowers are relatively new to the United States, showing up in the 1900s. If you’ve got a cauliflower in the fridge, it’s a good chance it came from California. There are a fair few varieties of Cauliflowers too. For the recipe below, you can use any of them or even combinations to mix up the colours.
One of my favourite cheeses is Manchego. It’s a sheep’s milk cheese and originates from the La Mancha region of Spain. There’s a man from there, I think, who knows something about windmills. Manchego is nutty and tangy and smells a bit like grass, which also makes me think of springtime.
Beltane Potluck: Cauliflower Gratin with Manchego
This dish makes enough for 4-6 people. Double it if you’re going to a big pot luck or just because you want more. This dish is vegetarian and gluten free and delicious to eat and easy to make.
2 heads of cauliflower
1 cup of heavy cream
A bit of ground nutmeg
A pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of Manchego cheese (you could use Parmesan or Romano, but try the Manchego. It’s worth it)
Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees F. While the oven is heating up, bring a large pot of water to the boil. The pot needs to be big enough to put all your cauliflower into, if that helps. Cut each cauliflower in half and remove any outer leaves and the hard, central stem. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Once the water is boiling, add the florets and cook for 3 minutes. The florets will be cooked, but still firm. Drain the water. Arrange the florets into a baking dish.
Grab a small bowl, crack the eggs and whisk them up. Add the cream. Add 1/8 to 1/4 of a teaspoon of nutmeg. Start with an 1/8 if you’re not sure you like nutmeg. Don’t forget the salt, just a pinch will do. Pour this mixture all over the cauliflower. Bake the whole thing in your oven for 40 minutes.
Here’s my favourite part, aside from eating it. After 40 minutes pull the cauliflower out of the oven. Sprinkle the Manchego over the baked caulifower and cream mixture and put it under the broiler for 4 minutes, until the top turns a sumptuous, golden brown colour. To be honest, I cook mine just a little longer until there are little crusty black bits too, because I like that flavour.
You can serve it warm. Serve it cold. Serve it as a side. Serve as a main dish. Not take it to the Beltane potluck and eat it all yourself while watching this amazing May Pole dance from the comfort of your own sofa.
May the Cauliflower fairy bring you all the cauliflowers you dream about on this Beltane. Happy Beltane.