Sicilian Cauliflower and Black Olive Gratin
Cauliflower Gratin with Black Olives

So many gratins are heavy – weighed down with cream and cheese, but this recipe adapted from The New York Times’s “Recipes for Health” series is light and flavorful.  The addition of Kalamata olives is a nice surprise and makes it a great side for many Italian dishes.

1 generous head green or white cauliflower (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 TB. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan, or a combination

Break up the cauliflower into small florets while you bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and drop in the cauliflower. Boil 5 minutes while you fill a bowl with ice and water. Transfer the cauliflower to the ice water, let sit for a couple of minutes, then drain and place on paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin dish. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes, and add a pinch of salt and the garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until fragrant and translucent. Remove from the heat and stir in the olives.

Toss the cauliflower into the skillet with the onion and olive mixture, add the remaining olive oil, and half the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir together well. Pour into baking dish, spread it out evenly and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the cheese is nicely browned. Serve hot or warm.