Loaded Cauliflower Bake (Susan Selasky)

Susan Selasky

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 a 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 also makes six generous side dish servings — more than the four listed in the recipe.

Here’s the recipe with my adjustments.

LOADED CAULIFLOWER BAKE

Serves: 6

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
  • 1½ cup 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
  • ¼ to ½ cup sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the cauliflower florets 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.

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