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Bestemor's Blomkal Gratin

Bestemor's Blomkal Gratin
Nicole Spiridakis for NPR /

This dish is inspired by my boyfriend Michael's grandmother. (Bestemor is "grandmother" in Norwegian; blomkal is "cauliflower.") I've added a few more ingredients than her original recipe to update it for my American palate, but the essential flavor is the same.

Makes 4 to 6 side-dish servings

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, thinly diced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 large tomato, coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper

1 large head cauliflower, washed and separated into florets

1 teaspoon dried basil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 1/3 cup milk

5 eggs, separated

Dash nutmeg

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

4 tablespoons bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until the onion is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato, cook for 7 minutes more, and then season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, steam the cauliflower for 5 to 10 minutes until slightly soft. In a large bowl, mix the cauliflower gently with the garlic, onion and tomato, and season with basil, salt and pepper. Transfer the cauliflower to a 2-quart shallow baking dish.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour. Cook for 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Pour in the milk and whisk well. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook for a few more minutes, stirring as the mixture thickens. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Gently fold into the butter and flour sauce.

Pour the sauce evenly over the cauliflower, top with the Parmesan cheese, sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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