Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese Casserole

20130408_175607It was a lowly Monday night as I gazed into my fridge, hoping that something to make for dinner would jump out at me. Due to my current attempts to eat somewhat healthier and eat out less, all I saw as promising ingredients was a head of cauliflower and a brick of Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese. The first thing that popped into my head was how one of my friends who has done the Paleo diet talked about making cauliflower mac ‘n cheese. I googled this idea and after realizing I had all of the ingredients, got to work.

It was a simple process, but a step that I did not take as seriously as should have was the one about making sure all of the liquid was removed from the boiled cauliflower by using paper towels. This is a key step in order to minimize the casserole from being too liquidy after baking. I made a few alterations to the original recipe due to my resources, including using half and half instead of heavy whipping cream and regular yellow mustard instead of Dijon. Turned out a lot yummier than I anticipated due to the creamy cheese sauce and hint of garlic…I almost forgot I wasn’t eating traditional mac.

Ingredients

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Kosher salt, as needed, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
Vegetable oil spray
1 cup heavy cream
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar, plus 1/2 cup for topping the casserole
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Equipment: 8 by 8-inch baking dish

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with salt.

Spray the baking dish with vegetable oil spray.

Cook the cauliflower in the boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat between several layers of paper towels to dry. Transfer the cauliflower to the baking dish and set aside.

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Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan, and whisk in the cream cheese and mustard until smooth.

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Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, salt, pepper and garlic and whisk just until the cheese melts, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat, pour over the cauliflower, and stir to combine.

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Top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake until browned and bubbly hot, about 15 minutes. Serve.

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