This is unashamed comfort food and we ate it as a main course, although of course you can serve it as a side to meat if you like. Mixing broccoli in with the cauliflower somehow lightens the dish and the hazelnut topping adds crunch and an added dimension of flavour. I could happily scoff the whole lot single-handed.
I used hazelnuts that were already chopped and toasted. I suspect if you went to the trouble of making your own you would need fewer because they’d be more intensely flavoured, but I was feeling lazy. You may not need all of the cheese sauce – it depends on the quantities of veg you want to use/numbers of people you’re feeding.
If you’re not a vegetarian I think the hint of smoky bacon is a welcome addition, but as ever, the choice is yours.
Cauliflower and Broccoli Gratin with Toasted Hazelnuts
A large head of broccoli
An equal quantity of cauliflower, about 1/2 large one
2-3 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons (optional)
A double handful of breadcrumbs made from slightly stale bread
About 100g chopped, toasted hazelnuts
2 tbsp grated parmesan
For the cheese sauce:
Around 350 ml milk
40 g butter
35 g plain flour
60g Cheddar cheese, grated
60g Parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
Make the cheese sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook gently for a minute or two. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick and glossy. You may not need all of the milk.
Season with a little salt and pepper and continue to cook gently until any floury taste has disappeared, stirring often.
Mix in the grated cheese and cook until melted and velvety. Check and adjust the seasoning and put a lid on it to stop a skin forming. Set aside somewhere warm.
Break the broccoli and cauliflower into florets and steam until almost cooked but still al dente – they’ll cook more in the oven. Drain them thoroughly. Fry the bacon lardons, if using, and stir them with the vegetables into the cheese sauce.
Spoon the mixture into a gratin dish. Mix the breadcrumbs with the hazelnuts and strew liberally across the top of the gratin, then sprinkle with the extra parmesan.
Place in the top of the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden and the gratin is piping hot. We ate it with roasted cherry tomatoes.