this is one of those recipes that takes a little bit from my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe (
which, yes, someday i will post…posted!) and combines it with this cauliflower recipe that i liked in theory but not so much in practice and kind of jams them together until they vow to play nicely together.
and in the end, of course, this cauliflower and farro gratin doesn’t bear a terrifically strong resemblance to either recipe, but that’s part of the fun, right? that and the dried cranberries; the dried cranberries definitely bring the fun.
my thought process was basically: macaroni and cheese is delicious. not very healthy though. cauliflower is healthier. so is (whole grain) farro. brie is not healthier but sure is delicious. dried cranberries + brie is nearly always a good idea. …let’s do it!
i will say, though, the first version of this cauliflower and farro gratin was unremarkable. i started off keeping the monterey jack cheese that’s in my favorite macaroni and cheese and just topped the gratin with brie. this led to too much heaviness and not enough brie-ness.
i found the gratin was much more to my liking once i ditched the monterey jack and split up the pile of brie, melting some into the sauce and using some on top of the gratin. this even allowed me to slightly reduce the amount of cheese being used overall and making things indistinguishably healthier is one of my little pet passions so, win.
early on i also wasn’t sure about the dried cranberries because, let’s face it, they sound a little strange here. in the first version, i left them out and added a few to half of my dinner once it came out of the oven, and topped the other half with chopped sun dried tomatoes (because i thought i might want to go in a more savory direction). to my surprise, i couldn’t really taste the sun dried tomatoes but the cranberries were clearly a good addition. decided.
from there, it was mostly a matter of figuring out the quantities and proportions (and adding a little dry mustard powder for a very subtle flavor kick, though it’s optional if you don’t have it in your cupboard and don’t want to buy it). aaaand now, here we are, happily enjoying a cauliflower and farro gratin that’s a little of this and a little of that, plus a lot of yum.