Recipe: Cheesy Cauliflower

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In Florida, the passing seasons aren’t marked by changes I’ve grown accustomed to. (Plummeting temperatures! Sweaters! Dreary rain all day!) However, I still find myself hankering for the sorts of foods that would warm you up on a cold, Autumn evening. Hearty vegetables and ooey-gooey cheeses. Whack ’em in the oven casseroles that smell delicious and warm up your whole house. This dish, adapted from Leanne Brown’s cookbook Good and Cheap, certainly fits the bill. And since it uses cauliflower as a base, one could argue that it’s basically the healthy alternative to mac and cheese! I’m excited to whip this one up again in a few weeks as a Thanksgiving side.

What you’ll need:

1 head of cauliflower

1 Tbsp butter

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 tsp chili flakes

1 Tbsp flour

1 1/2 cups milk

6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated

salt and pepper

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp paprika

breadcrumbs (optional)

scallions (optional)

And how it all comes together:

– Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

– Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat and chop your cauliflower into florets. Once water has boiled, add the cauliflower florets and a pinch of salt and allow to boil for 4 minutes.

– Butter a small casserole or pie dish. Drain the cauliflower and add it to the buttered dish.

– Next, melt your butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add flour and stir quickly for about a minute to allow your roux to get a bit brown. Slowly add your milk as you continue to stir. (Note: You may need to add a bit more flour or a bit more milk to reach your desired consistency.)

– Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring every once and awhile to insure the bottom of the saucepan doesn’t get scorched.

– As soon as the sauce reaches a boil turn off the heat and stir in your cheese. Add your mustard, paprika, and scallions. (Note: This is a really great cheese sauce recipe to have in your wheelhouse! Add it to noodles for creamy mac and cheese or to scalloped potatoes or chopped winter squash.) I also chopped up a few slices of deli turkey that I wanted to use up and threw ’em into the mix. Add what you have on hand: leftover cooked ham, bits of crispy bacon, peas, salsa…the skies the limit! Or, leave the cauliflower to speak for itself.

– Give the sauce a taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

– Pour the cheese sauce over your cauliflower and add breadcrumbs to the top, if you like. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is bubbly and brown! Enjoy as a main dish (great casserole or mac and cheese substitute) with a green salad or as a hearty vegetable side with a yummy roast dinner.

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