Becoming a vegetarian wasn’t something that happened from day to night for me. I had to cope with the idea for some time, (a couple of years, to be more exact) and there were always reasons that held me back from making the decision, but the truth is I always felt kind of guilty about eating meat and deep inside of me I knew that I would stop doing it at some point. I started slowly rejecting red meat, till the point I only ate poultry and fish, and the idea of changing to a vegetarian diet crossed my mind many times.
But there was always one mayor problem: I didn’t like vegetables too much and I hated beans. At least that’s what I always thought. I mean, how could I even consider becoming a vegetarian when I couldn’t eat what vegetarians eat? What was I supposed to eat then? And this kind of thinking kept delaying my decision.
I now understand that I was just imposing limitations to my own options, out of ignorance, as it usually happens when we fear the unknown.
Then the time came when I had the opportunity to stay for a couple of weeks with my in-laws, who have been vegetarians for many years, and this time with them I ate only what they ate, vegetarian food that is. I was so impressed on how I enjoyed absolutely everything they prepared, Including all kinds of beans and veggies and all of the sudden it didn’t seemed impossible anymore. I soon understood that the time was right to finally make the change of diet I was so wrongfully afraid of.
It may sound cliche, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I feel that I am doing the right thing, not just for my body and my health, but for others as well. I feel that there is so much more positive energy flowing around me and although there are other reasons involved, I know that being a vegetarian influences a great deal too. If this doesn’t make much sense to you, you can read this article wich explains it very good.
Now, enough about me, let’s talk about the recipe.
“Chou Fleur au gratin” or “Gratin de Chou Fleur” is a popular French dish which I love, as anything gratin or with Bechamel sauce in it. It is simply a creamy cauliflower casserole with gratin cheese and it is usually served as a side dish, but I like to serve mine as a main, with some green salad and baguette bread, for example.
I have been playing with this dish, preparing it in different ways, but with the addition of mushrooms this version is my favorite . It is a great example of how vegetables can become mouthwatering delicious when prepared right.
1 Big head of fresh Cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
350 g. fresh white mushrooms, washed and cut into quarters
3 Tbs. butter
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp. caraway seeds
3 Tbs. all purpose flour
2 cups milk
¾ cup grated Gruyere cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 360 F .
Lightly grease a 2 Qt. baking dish and set aside.
Steam the cauliflower florets and the quartered mushrooms separately for 10 and 5 minutes, respectively (I used my bamboo steamer which allows me to do that at the same time). When they are done, arrange them into the greased baking dish and reserve.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and cook the shallots on medium heat for about 3 minutes or until soft. Add the caraway seeds, stir and cook for another minute. Add the flour, stir to combine with the butter until all of the flour has moistened and then add the milk. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a gentle simmer and keep stirring slowly until the sauce has thickened.
Pour the sauce over the reserved cauliflower and mushrooms. Help distribute the sauce evenly with a spoon and cover the top with the cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese has browned slightly.
Serve and Enjoy!