Cauliflower casserole replaces loaded baked potatoes
A video and recipe for a Loaded Cauliflower Bake from www.delish.com recently piqued my interest.
Armed with plenty of cauliflower to use up, I gave it a try.
The recipe is supposed to be like a loaded baked potato — minus the potato. Instead, the cauliflower, long a low-carb friendly option, stands in for the potato.
The recipe was easy but needed more than salt and pepper and a mess of cheese to help it along. I added a sprinkling of Morton’s Nature’s Seasons Seasoning blend — my go-to all-purpose seasoning — for a boost along with a pinch of cayenne.
Both are totally optional, and you can add your own flavor boost. As for the directions, it calls for squeezing the cauliflower to drain. I didn’t find doing so necessary because it didn’t get that water-logged during the 2-minute blanch time.
I also added more sliced green onions because it needed it. The recipe is fine as a side dish and, if you’re watching carbs and trying to avoid potatoes, is a good alternative. It makes six generous side dish servings — more than the four listed in the recipe.
Loaded Cauliflower Bake
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
2 small heads cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups reduced-fat milk
11/2 cups shredded cheddar or favorite cheddar cheese blend
2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Morton’s Nature’s Season Seasoning blend to taste, optional
Pinch of cayenne pepper to taste, optional
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 to 1/2 cup sliced green onions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the cauliflower florets for 2 minutes.
Drain well and transfer to a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish.
To make the cheese sauce:
In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
Add flour and stir until golden, 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and bring to a low simmer.
Add cream cheese and whisk until combined.
Stir in 1 cup cheddar until melted; season with salt and pepper.
Taste and, if you like, add seasoning blend and pinch cayenne pepper. Pour cheese sauce over cauliflower and stir until combined. Stir in all but 1 tablespoon each cooked bacon and green onions until combined, then top with remaining cheddar, bacon, and green onions.
Bake until cauliflower is tender and cheese is bubbly and thickened, 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving.
Adapted from www.delish.com. Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.