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Food

A meatball and cauliflower gratin with all the comfort of baked pasta

Meatballs flavored with spicy Dijon mustard lift a creamy gratin of cauliflower showered with Gruyere cheese. Prop styling by Kate Parisian.
Meatballs flavored with spicy Dijon mustard lift a creamy gratin of cauliflower showered with Gruyère cheese. Prop styling by Kate Parisian.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

This comforting baked keto dish could, if you squint your eyes hard enough, pass for baked pasta, swimming in cream and topped with nutty, browned Gruyère cheese. Already have your own favorite homemade or frozen store-bought meatball recipe? Use it here in place of the from-scratch meatballs; just make sure they’re the same size and are thawed completely.

Keto Mustardy Meatball and Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyère

1 hour. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and broken into bite-size florets
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound ground beef, preferably 80/20
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon everyday olive oil
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 cups grated Gruyère or aged white cheddar

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place four 2-cup gratin dishes on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Bring 1 cup water to a simmer in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and cover the skillet. Cook until the cauliflower florets are just tender enough to be pierced with the tip of a knife, about 2 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the water evaporates and the cauliflower is fully tender, 4 to 5 minutes more. Divide the cauliflower among the prepared gratin dishes.
  3. In a medium bowl, break apart the ground beef with your fingers into pieces about the size of a dime. Dollop the mustard over the beef then season liberally with salt and pepper. Use your fingers to gently toss the beef until it’s well-coated with the seasonings. Roll walnut-size pieces of beef into about 32 balls (1¼-inch-diameter) and divide them among the gratin dishes, resting them on the cauliflower.
  4. Pour ½ cup cream over the meatballs and cauliflower in each dish, season with salt and pepper, then top each with ¾ cup grated cheese. Bake until the meatballs are cooked through and the cheese is golden brown and bubbling on top, about 30 minutes. Serve while warm.

Variations
Curry Cream: Stir 1 tablespoon curry powder into the cream before dividing it among the gratin dishes.

Lamb and Feta: Swap ground lamb for the beef, omit the Gruyère, and divide 8 ounces crumbled feta among the dishes after baking.

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Broccoli-Cheddar: Swap broccoli for the cauliflower and swap sharp cheddar for the Gruyère.

Macros (per serving):
Fat: 94.2 g
Carbs: 5.6 g
Protein: 47.4 g


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