Sometimes, like most people, I get ridiculous cravings for ridiculously bad-for-me foods. The most recent of these cravings was for a super-rich, super-cheesy, super-indigestion-inducing macaroni and cheese.
You know the kind I mean. I'm not talking about the blue box, but rather the kind of macaroni and cheese loaded with about a pound of cheese, butter, cheese, more butter, cheese and cream. The kind that is more like cheese with some noodles holding it together. While it sounded good in my head, the later stomach anguish I'd feel would not be worth it. So, I had a brainstorm.
What's my go-to for a starch replacement? Cauliflower! I've made mashed cauliflower
, shepherd's pie
with mashed cauliflower, cauliflower crust pizza
, cauliflower ceviche
... so why not "macaroni and cauliflower"? My next thought was that I really didn't want to use too many dishes to make said dish. So this is a one-pot and one-pan compromise. I really shouldn't say compromise, because honestly, it was delicious...but it was not my typical macaroni and cheese! Oh, and did I mention that there's bacon involved?
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Keywords: simmer bake entree side gluten-free cauliflower cheese rice
- 2 large heads cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 5 slices center-cut bacon, cut into small pieces
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 2 cans fat-free evaporated milk
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- 6 ounces 0% Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
- 2 cups 2% milk sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups uncooked instant brown rice (or 3 cups cooked brown rice)
- 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Pre-heat the oven to 350*F.
Place the cauliflower florets and rice in a large casserole dish and set aside.
Set a large sauce pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until the bacon is crispy and the fat has been rendered.
Sprinkle the flour over the bacon and stir well. This serves to thicken the sauce.
Next, add the evaporated milk and fat-free milk to the pot and stir well.
Add the yogurt, ricotta, garlic powder, salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a slow simmer.
Add the cheeses in handfuls, stirring well between each addition.
Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and rice, top with bread crumbs, and bake uncovered for about 40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and the cauliflower is soft.
Allow the casserole to sit about 10 minutes before serving.
I was truly shocked as to how well the whole thing turned out. I was a little nervous when I first took the casserole out of the oven since it was a bit watery, but upon letting it sit for about 10 minutes, it was beautiful.
This could very easily be made completely vegetarian with the omission of the bacon, just add in about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to the pot before adding the flour.
It's not the prettiest dish when served... but in this case, it doesn't really matter.
Adam and I both enjoyed this thoroughly and agreed that, while it wasn't the same as the super-rich, stick-to-your-ribs, hurt-your-stomach macaroni and cheese, there was something about it that really hit the spot.
But honestly, sometimes "close enough" is really just right.