Cut the carbs with this tasty Loaded Cauliflower Mac & Cheese, using cauliflower in place of heavy, carb-laden pasta. This is a faux version of one of America’s favorite comfort foods. Cauliflower is a very bland vegetable, almost tasteless, and will take on the flavor of the rich, cheesy sauce. Bacon and green onions give an extra punch of gusto to make you forget all about pasta.
Even cauliflower-haters will enjoy this filling side dish. It”s great for those following a low-carb diet. Have all of your ingredients prepped, and this goes together fairly quickly. Be sure to check out my notes before you begin.
Loaded Cauliflower Mac & Cheese Recipe
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup diced sweet onions
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon reserved bacon grease
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup full-flavored, strong chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream or whole milk
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Dash of nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups fine-shredded Cheddar cheese, divided use
Sweet Hungarian paprika
Fry the bacon strips until crispy. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease. Crumble the bacon into pieces (not as small as bits). Remove 2 tablespoons of the bacon pieces and keep separate for the topping. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a 8- by 8- by 3-inch glass or ceramic casserole dish with vegetable spray.
Remove the core and stems from the cauliflower. Cut and separate the florets into pieces roughly the size of elbow macaroni. You should have about 4 cups.
Make the Sauce:
In a large saucepan, gently saute the diced sweet onions in the bacon grease and butter until the onions soften but do not brown. Add pressed garlic and saute, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in the flour and cook, continuing to stir, for 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken broth and stir until the sauce begins to thicken. Add heavy cream or milk, onion powder, and nutmeg. Continue to simmer while stirring until thickened. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup of the shredded Cheddar cheese to the sauce, stirring until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the cauliflower will absorb some of the salt.
Add the cauliflower, green onions, and bacon to the cheese sauce. Gently stir to coat the cauliflower. Pour into the prepared casserole dish. Top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese and the reserved 2 tablespoons of bacon pieces. Sprinkle lightly with the sweet paprika.
Bake for 1 hour, or until cauliflower has softened but is not mushy. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Loaded Cauliflower Mac & Cheese makes a great side dish, but it’s hearty enough to make a meal out of.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
• Don’t overcook this casserole. It is important that the cauliflower retain its texture in order to mock the missing pasta.
• You may substitute turkey bacon for pork bacon.
• Packaged bacon pieces may be used to save time, but be sure to get the pieces and not the bits. The pieces should be about 1/4 inch in size. I’m not crazy about imitation soy bacon bits, but if you like them, feel free to substitute.
• Fresh chives may be substituted for the green onions.
• Ham chunks may be added for extra protein.
• You can lighten this up by using low-fat milk or half-and-half, along with low-fat cheese. However, keep in mind that you will lose the richness and mouth-feel of traditional macaroni and cheese.
Loaded Cauliflower Mac & Cheese Recipe Photo ©2019 Peggy Filippone