Cauliflower was one of the foods that I swore off when I became a vegetarian. It’s white, after all. What sort of vitamins and minerals could be found in such a bland-looking vegetable? A lot. One cup of raw cauliflower not only contains 77% of the vitamin C you need in a day; it’s also a good source for vitamins B9 (folate), K, and energy-boosting B12. No wonder it’s known as one of the cancer-fighting brassicas worth piling on your plate.
Even if you know how good it is for you, if you don’t live in a town that prides itself on cultivating cauliflower, you might not seek it out at your grocery store. Honestly the only reason I’ve bought the vegetable is because my husband talks it up. Usually we lightly sauté it and then simmer it in a tikka masala sauce as a side with our baked salmon. Last week Cameron picked up a bowling-ball-sized head of cauliflower, and we managed to shovel down half of it before I called it quits.
Not wanting to waste this powerhouse veggie, I searched the Vegetarian Times online recipe archive (if you haven’t found yourself “paging” through their digital recipes at 2am, you haven’t lived yet). We settled on the recipe featured below. Yes, lightly steamed cauliflower is probably the healthiest way to consume cauliflower, but flavor is also important. If you have kids in the family who hiss at vegetables the way vampires hiss at the sunrise, this cheddar cheese sauce might lure even the biggest cauliflower skeptic.
Mac-and-Cheese-Style Cauliflower (adapted from Vegetarian Times)
1/2 large head cauliflower (3/4 lb.), cut into medium florets (4 cups)
1 Tbs. butter
1 1/2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat milk
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 egg yolks
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used prepared breadcrumbs to save time.)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets, and boil 3 to 4 minutes, or until just tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid, and set aside.
2. Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in milk, garlic, and reserved cooking liquid, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until sauce is thickened, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese, nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, and egg yolk until cheese is melted. Fold in cauliflower.
3. Coat medium-sized baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Spread cauliflower mixture in baking dish, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Spray breadcrumbs with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes, or until casserole is hot and bubbly and breadcrumbs are crisp and brown.