Cheddar Cauliflower and Carrot Gratin

*Cheddar Cauliflower and Carrot Gratin*
Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish, or 4 as a main course

This is a tasty vegetable gratin, just perfect as a side dish for those holiday meals that are looming.  Served on it's own with a side salad it also makes quite a delicious lunch or light supper!  Take note of my variations at the end!

1 cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
For the Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
3 TBS flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
pinch each of freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg
2 ounces strong cheddar cheese grated
Gratin Topping:
2 ounces strong cheddar cheese grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

Butter an 8 cup gratin dish and set aside.

Bring a saucepan of slightly salted water to the boil.  Add the cauliflower and cook only until crispy tender.  Scoop out with a slotted spoon, and place them into the gratin dish.  (Don't get rid of the water!!)  Add the carrots to the same water and cook them until crispy tender.  Scoop them out with the slotted spoon and scatter them over top of the cauliflower.

Measure and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Melt the butter for the sauce in a saucepan.  Whisk in the flour and cook for several minutes.  Whisk in the reserved cooking liquid and the milk.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and  thickens and bubbles.  Season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Blend in the cheese, stirring until it melts.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.  Pour this over the vegetables in the gratin dish.

Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F. 

Mix together the melted butter, bread crumbs and cheese.  Sprinkle this evenly over top of the casserole.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Pop under the grill for another 2 to 3 minutes to crisp up the topping.  Serve immediately.

Variations:  You can substitute any combination of vegetables for the ones suggested.  Some tasty convinations are Brussels sprous and broccoli, Parsnips, celery and onions, Potatoes and rutabaga, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, parsnips and carrots, jerusalem artichokes and potatoes, butternut squash and sweet potatoes.  Cook a total of about 2 1/2 pound of vegetables and proceed as per recipe.
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