Monday, October 24, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Cheese Sauce

OK, bear with me, because I'm about to try to make you really excited about cauliflower.  Cauliflower is a vegetable that for the first 28 years of my life I mainly just ignored.  I didn't hate it, but didn't care about it.  Why go for cauliflower when there are so many brighter, more glamorous options in the vegetable department?

Recently, something made me give it another shot and it quickly became a vegetable that is almost always on my grocery list.  My favorite way to cook cauliflower is to toss it in olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and garlic and roast at 425 for about 30 minutes until it gets nice and brown and caramelized.  We started doing this all the time, especially in the summer when John was grilling out several nights a week.  But then I had dinner at a friend's house and she served some sort of cauliflower bake that involved cheese and cream and probably butter and other things I want to pretend were not in there, and I realized I needed to stop being so healthy and kick this bad boy up a notch.

So after a little bit of googling I came across this recipe on Epicurious and have made it twice already.  (Once on John's birthday and once when our friends Lindsay and Brent came over for dinner).  So good!  So flavorful!  So cheesy!  Cheese makes everything better, right?

Try this side dish this fall and winter as an alternative to mashed potatoes or mac & cheese - we served it both times with roasted chicken (made on the Big Green Egg) and a salad.  It's pretty rich so you don't need a lot, but I won't judge you if you go back for seconds.  I did :-)

Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Recipe Source: adapted from
Serves 4

1 large head of cauliflower
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups milk (recipe calls for whole...I used 1 cup 1% milk and 1 cup half and half because that's what was in my fridge)
10 ounces white cheddar cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add about a teaspoon of salt and the cauliflower (with green leaves and stem removed), and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove cauliflower from pot and let cool slightly.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, chop into florets and place in a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Reduce the heat to low, add the flour and salt, and whisk until slightly brown and bubbling, about 2 minutes.  Raise the heat back to medium, add the milk, and whisk constantly until the consistency is smooth but not too thick, about 5 minutes.  Add one cup of the cheese and stir until melted.  Pour over the cauliflower and top with the rest of the cheese.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, or until the top of the cauliflower is brown and bubbly.  

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