Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

I mentioned yesterday that I had a life-changing side dish to share with you. Here it is. And I hope you make it. Soon.

Before this dish, cauliflower didn’t rank very high on my veggie-loving list. I mean, I didn’t hate it, but it definitely didn’t call to me from the produce section begging me to buy it. However, it is no exaggeration to say that this is hands down the best way I’ve ever prepared the homely little vegetable. All of the cheese and cream quite possibly negates any health benefits from the cauliflower but let’s ignore that little fact because it was all worth it in my book (and by the way, I have successfully used lowfat milk in place of the cream with slightly less thick but still stellar results). The cauliflower is cooked to tender perfection and lingers in a creamy, cheesy, delicious bath while being topped with garlicky, buttery bread crumbs. Oh my. It was pure cauliflower heaven.

{Update 03/14}: I updated pictures on this lovely little recipe as well as editing a few parts of the recipe (omitting garlic from the bread crumbs, offering panko as a worthy substitute to the homemade bread crumbs, and a few other details). This continues to be one of our favorite cauliflower dishes.

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Yield: Serves 4-5

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Note: this recipe can easily be doubled and put in a 9X13-inch baking dish. Also, to lighten up the dish, I’ve used lowfat milk for a slightly less thick but still delicious variation.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices hearty white or wheat sandwich bread, torn into pieces or about 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and divided (use half in the topping, half in the cauliflower mixture)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large cauliflower head, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch florets (about 6 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pulse the bread, 1 tablespoon cheddar, 1 tablespoon Monterey Jack, 1 tablespoon butter, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a food processor or blender until coarsely ground.
  2. Heat the remaining butter, garlic and flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the cream (or milk) and broth. Stir in cauliflower, dry mustard, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is nearly tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the rest of the cheese.
  3. Pour the mixture into an 8X8-inch baking dish and top with the bread crumb mixture. Bake until the crumbs are golden and crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/cheesy-cauliflower-bake/

Recipe Source: adapted Cook’s Country Feb/March 2010

43 Responses to Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

  1. Cammee says:

    Oh, I want to make this right now! I’ve turned a corner with cauliflower, roasted cauliflower is one of my favorite treats. I eat it like popcorn during a movie. This recipe might even have my pickiest eater singing cauliflower’s praises!

  2. erin says:

    YUM!! I think I just figured out what I’m doing with that cauliflower that’s been sitting in my fridge for the last few days…
    But I’m gonna try to use fat free half and half instead of the heavy cream…that might redeem the “unhealthiness” a good bit! :)
    Thanks for the recipe!!!

  3. Kim in MD says:

    I thought you might be talking cauliflower (or broccoli) yesterday. Cauliflower is really a very under-rated vegetable. I love it roasted, and can’t wait to try this recipe! :-)

  4. grace says:

    isn’t it amazing what a little…er, a lot of cheese can do for a dish? i love that jack cheese is involved, and i’m also pretty keen on the mustard. cauliflower has been transformed!

  5. Kristin says:

    have you tried roasted cauliflower? It turned me on to cauliflower too. This (http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/roasted_cauliflower/) is a great version. Make sure to use a whole lemon and LOTS of fresh parmesan and it is awesome.

  6. Tracey says:

    This dish sounds very good, I’m excited to try it. However, my only concern is that I do not have a food processor. Do you think it would still work if I used bread crumbs and finely shredded cheese for the topping??

  7. Mel says:

    Tracey – yes, I think it could definitely work without a food processor. The topping might not be as finely chopped but I would still try combining bread crumbs and the cheese. Good luck!

  8. Tracey says:

    Sorry, but I forgot to ask you… about what amount of bread crumbs would be the equivilent of using the 2 slices of bread?? Does that make sense? Basically, how much bread crumb do you think I should use?
    By the way, you photos always look fabulous, I just want to eat your entire website:):)

  9. Mel says:

    Tracey – I’m guessing it would be about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs. Somewhere around there.

  10. Amber says:

    Thanks! I’m trying this tonight… yum!

  11. Tanya says:

    I made this last night and it was pretty tasty, although I think there may be a bit of a trick to getting all the cauliflower cooked the same amount, before you put it in the oven. However, it was worth making and I will be trying it again soon!

  12. Mel says:

    Tanya – thanks for letting me know this worked out ok. Did your cauliflower cook unevenly or was it just not cooked enough altogether?

  13. Lisa says:

    Mel,

    I made this tonight (doubled recipe) and it was DE-LISH as are all of your recipes thus far! I served it alongside baked cod w/ lemon and sugar snap peas. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s leftovers : ) Thank you for sharing all the goodness!

    • Mel says:

      Lisa – what a fantastic dinner! I was jealous reading about this cauliflower bake and the delicious items you served it with. Yum!

  14. Felicia says:

    Thanks for a great recipe. Even my husband, who is only so-so about cauliflower, really enjoyed it. Thanks again!

    • Mel says:

      Felicia – glad this was a hit! Thanks for letting me know – I’m especially glad your husband liked it since it sounds like he isn’t a huge cauliflower fan.

  15. Sara says:

    I didn’t just love this. Mine was too garlicky or something. Seemed like a lot of work. I prefer steamed cauliflower or cauliflower with cheese sauce. Sorry!!

  16. Courtney G says:

    This was so good!!! Thanks for another great recipe.

  17. Tobi says:

    i’m slightly ashamed to admit that i’ve only ever eaten cauliflower raw with ranch dip…lol! tonight on a whim i decided to make this and as usual it was a hit. even the 7 year old and 16 month old loved it ;) yet another winner, winner, mels kitchen cafe dinner! thanks mel!

  18. Search the web for a Cheesy Cauliflower recipe and your recipe looked the best. Well I’m glad I found it! Easy to make & it tasted really good! Thanks!

  19. Bridgett says:

    Subscribing. Thanks

  20. Maren Fochs says:

    I love your blog!! Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes.

  21. Christina says:

    Do you think I could make this ahead of time and reheat just before serving? I was thinking maybe reheat in the microwave (leaving off breadcrumb topping) and then put on the breadcrumbs and pop in the oven just long enough to crisp?

  22. Mel says:

    Christina – I’ve made this the morning of and baked it later. I’ve never tried it in the microwave, but it fares pretty well being assembled in advance and baked later.

  23. Shannon says:

    Tried this tonight. I overcooked it a little and I think it would be even better if it had been a little less limp. (Forgot to take it out of the oven while I broiled the fish!) The flavor was excellent even so!

  24. Sarah Jane says:

    Made this last night. For unknown reasons decided to double the sauce. I might not do that next time, but we’re still eating every drop of that extra sauce! Yummy, terrific, wonderful recipe! If anything I’ll double the topping instead…..good stuff. Thanks again Mel. I think this would make an excellent Macaroni & Cheese too……if you needed that pasta fix.

  25. Stephanie B says:

    I made this last night and I liked it, but the garlic was a bit strong for me. I think next time I would leave the garlic out of the breadcrumb topping.

  26. Steve O says:

    I just made this, but had a lot of cauliflower and no way would this fit into a medium sauce pan, nor could you possibly cook the cauliflower in such a small amount of liquid, so I imprivised. I boiled my cauliflower on the side in a large pot, then drained it and added the sauce I had made and stirred it up that way. I would probably cut the garlic in half.

  27. [...] I settled on a recipe to use as a template for my delicious creation.  I started with this cheesy cauliflower bake recipe from Mels Kitchen Cafe, added onions, changed out the topping, and made a few other [...]

  28. Patricia says:

    cauliflower has always been one of my favorite veggies, and cheese makes it perfect for me. however I am on a strict low sodium, low cholesterol and fat diet. could you please give me the nutrition facts on this recipe

  29. Susie says:

    I don’t meant to be captain obvious but if anyone wants to know the nutrition facts to your meals they just look the calories etc for individual ingredients in the amount that is called for, add them all together and divide them by servings. Do people not get this or are they feeling a tad bit lazy and want Mel to do ten more steps for us when we haven’t had to pay a dime for great recipes? I’m not going for captain rude either!

  30. yvonne says:

    Good Day,
    Can we make this the day before, will it get extra soggy?

  31. Melanie says:

    Hi! It can be difficult to find warm, yummy, vegetarian comfort foods to make for potluck dinners. I have made this on Easter and Thanksgiving for the past two years. I’ll be making it again, tomorrow, for Thanksgiving dinner at my mom and dad’s, as well as my in-laws’ house. I just wanted to finally say thank you for the recipe!

  32. Connie says:

    Okay, I made this today. It was “okay”, but I too thought that there was too much garlic and I also felt it was overpowered by too much thyme. I might try it again, but would cut the garlic and thyme by at least half, because I want to taste the cauliflower. Sorry. I do, however, like several of your other recipes though, a LOT!

  33. Terri says:

    I noticed your note about omitting the garlic from the bread crumbs but don’t see where is says how much garlic goes in the sauce. Maybe I missed it.

    • Mel says:

      Hey Terri – sorry about that! I must have omitted the garlic completely from the ingredients list when taking it out of the bread crumb topping. There is still one clove of garlic that gets added to the sauce. I just edited the recipe. Thanks for the heads up!

  34. Connie says:

    To Terri,
    I was puzzled about the garlic question, because I couldn’t find it now either. But after reading through the whole recipe again including pictures, I see now that Mel has changed the recipe omitting the garlic, and she also updated the photos. If you read what is written between the first and second photo, you will see the note about the changes. Hope this helps you!

  35. Candi says:

    I was about to make the recipe this morning for Easter (I’m so excited!). I was confused about the garlic thing because I copied it the other day. I saw that the garlic has been added to the ingredient list, but I would also change the words “remaining garlic” to just “garlic” in the instructions. Thanks so much for all that you do, Mel! You’re my fave!

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