Gratins are a great meal time solution and an excellent means of incorporating a variety of vegetables into your diet. They are also very versatile: broccoli, fennel, squash and cabbage all cook well in gratins and wintry root vegetables such as turnips or celeriac make an excellent alternative to the potatoes traditionally used in gratin dauphinoise.
Because of the addition of flageolet beans, which are high in B vitamins, low in fat and a good source of fibre and protein, the recipe below is substantial enough to be served with just a green salad on the side. It would also work well as a side dish, with roasted meat or fish. Cauliflower tends to be a neglected vegetable, but it is rich in vitamins C and K and contains folate, potassium and manganese.
For a more Mediterannean-style gratin, sauté sliced onions, garlic, aubergine and courgettes in a little olive oil until soft and tender, stir in fresh or tinned tomatoes, season and cook for four to six minutes until thickened slightly. Tip into a shallow dish, sprinkle over a mixture of breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, chopped thyme and parsley and bake for 20 minutes.
Cauliflower and flageolet bean gratin
Serves: 2 as a main meal, 4 as a side dish
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 x 400g tin flageolet beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
125g low-fat crème fraîche
For the breadcrumb topping:
50g wholemeal breadcrumbs
25g parmesan, finely grated
6 sage leaves, finely chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200¿C/fan 180¿C /gas 6.
Cook the cauliflower in boiling salted water for six minutes or until tender. Drain well. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the garlic, leek and celery and fry for four to six minutes, until softened. Stir in the flageolet beans and cook for a further two minutes.
Remove the pan from heat, add the cooked cauliflower, Dijon mustard and the crème fraîche. Season with salt and pepper and stir gently to combine.
Transfer the mixture to a shallow oven-proof dish. Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan, sage and rosemary together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and scatter over the bean mixture.
Transfer to the oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until crisp and golden on top.