1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cored and cut into florets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour or use cornstarch for a gluten-free gratin
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Remove the core of the cauliflower and cut the cauliflower into florets. Place the florets in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Prepare a 2-quart gratin dish or a shallow baking dish by coating it with cooking oil spray.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in shallot and garlic. Add salt and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
Stir in thyme, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the flour or cornstarch until it’s incorporated with all other ingredients in the saucepan, about 1 minute.
Whisk in cream and bring to a simmer, about 1 minute.
Pour the sauce over the cauliflower florets and coat well. Transfer to the prepared gratin dish. Cover it with foil and bake on the middle rack of your oven for 35 minutes until almost tender.
Remove the foil. Stir the cauliflower to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle cheese on top and return the the oven. Continue to bake, uncovered, until the cauliflower is lightly brown on top and tender, about 20-30 minutes.
Let the cauliflower sit for 10 minutes before serving.