Cauliflower with watercress puree

By Liz Benno, Eataly



Serves 4 to 6 people

1 head cauliflower

1 bunch watercress

2 cups thick béchamel sauce

½ heavy cream

½ cup Swiss cheese, grated, with 2 tablespoons reserved

2 tablespoons fine bread crumbs (homemade or store bought)

2 tablespoons butter, diced


Bechamel Sauce

5 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons all purpose flour

3 ½ cups milk

One pinch of nutmeg

Salt, to taste



Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.


In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook until golden brown. In another pot heat the milk, but do not boil. Add the hot milk to the butter/flour mixture while whisking at the same time. Cook for at least 15 minutes, until thick. Season with nutmeg and salt.


Separate 1 head of cauliflower into florets. Cut off 1 bunch watercress just above the stems. Set up an ice bath nearby. Drop the cauliflower into boiling salted water and boil for 6 minutes. Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon and drain. Drop the watercress into the same boiling water and cook for 3 minutes and then strain and place into the ice bath. When the watercress is cool remove from ice bath and drain on paper towels and set aside. Puree the cauliflower and watercress and place in a large mixing bowl. Then fold in two cups of béchamel. Fold in ½ cup of the heavy cream then fold in the grated Swiss cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Place the mixture in a lightly buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and the remaining grated Swiss cheese. Scatter the cubed butter on top.


Place on the upper third of the oven. Cook until golden brown, about 30 minutes.


Serve warm.



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