If you’re looking for low-carb comfort food, this is it. This cheesy cauliflower bake is loaded with all the flavor and creaminess of mac and cheese without the gluten and additional calories of pasta. It is warm, cheesy and delicious, loaded with all the flavors of mac and cheese with bacon but so much better for you.
Before you call me crazy for implying that this might be a healthy option, consider that fat is not always the bad guy. Especially good fats like olive oil, grass-fed butter and uncured bacon. Consider that a pound of pasta is roughly 700 calories while the equal measure of cauliflower has about 150 calories. Of course it’s just not the same eating cauliflower as pasta and if you want a bowl of good old fashioned mac and cheese go for it. I’m simply suggesting this might be a delicious alternative, or at least a delicious side with chicken, fish or steak!
This cheesy cauliflower bake can actually be made two ways. Today I steamed the cauliflower to keep it lower in calories but it is also delicious twice baked.
Roasting takes no more effort than steaming the cauliflower and adds a great layer of flavor. By roasting the cauliflower you allow the natural sugars in the cauliflower to caramelize creating, yep, you guessed it, flavor! This step is also a great place to add additional flavors. I like it simple with olive oil, salt and pepper but if you want a more bold flavor consider roasting the cauliflower with garlic or basil infused olive oil. But if you are trying to save a few calories wherever you can, trust me when I say this Cheesy Cauliflower Bake is delicious with steamed cauliflower.
Cheesy Cauliflower Bake
- 2 small heads cauliflower, cut into florets
- Olive oil for roasting cauliflower, about 2 Tbs
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 c. whole milk
- 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar, divided
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1/4 c. sliced green onions
- Preheat the oven to 450° F.
For roasting; On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Roast the cauliflower in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until tender yet still slightly crisp (aldente).
- For steamed; Use a microwave steamer to steam the cauliflower for 5 minutes or simply drop into a large pot of boiling water to par boil the cauliflower for 3 minutes. Drain well.
- Make cheese sauce: In a large skillet, melt butter. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute, then add flour and stir until golden, 2 minutes. Add milk and bring to a low simmer, then add cream cheese, whisking until combined. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup cheddar until melted, then season with salt and pepper.
- In a 9”-x-13” dish, add cauliflower. Pour over cheese sauce and stir carefully 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.
- Reduce the oven temp to 350° Bake until cauliflower is tender and cheese is melty, 30 minutes.
About the Author
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. Her Blog, Table and Dish is a website devoted to celebrating and curating the many ways that food binds us. Sally hopes that her recipes and images will inspire you to gather your friends and family in the kitchen to make memories, use the time to connect with busy kids, chat over mixing bowls, get messy, laugh, sing, set the table, clear the table, pass the salt, debate the days topics and pray. You can follow her here as a weekly contributor to 365Barrington and Heinen’s as well as via Table and Dish on Instagram and on her website at TableAndDish.com.
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