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Mac-and-Cheese-Style Cauliflower

Eat your vegetables! Not unless there is cheese involved, for a lot of kids. Even if this doesn't work for them, it will for grown-ups!

For more basic recipes with simple ingredients ... so easy, even a dad can do them, visit There's a Dad in the Kitchen.

Any parent worth their salt tries to get their kids to eat more vegetables. Even before the institution of parenthood had a clearer understanding of the actual benefits of increased vegetables, parents did this. Was it just intuitive, or was there a sadistic side to those uninformed parents? Perhaps we’ll never know.

My brother Brad and I were just talking about his being forced to eat Brussels sprouts as a kid. He told Mom and Dad that he would throw up if he ate them. Subsequently, Brad was told that he would sit at the table until he did. The scene was set for the quintessential Mexican standoff. The minutes clicked by. After almost an hour, Brad yielded to their final demand of “just one.” He ate it and his prophecy, shall we say, came true…right on the kitchen table.

I just heard on the radio that children have stronger bitter receptors in their taste buds than do adults. I’m not sure about that. My theory is that our taste buds are just glazed-over with everything we’ve thrown down our pie holes. Or maybe it’s that we’ve learned to suppress our gag reflex. More research is needed.

Many parents try to hide vegetables in other food. You’ll recall my chili with hidden zucchini recipe. Fellow blogger RofoMom hides cauliflower in her mashed potatoes. And my mother made “golden mashed” with hidden cooked carrots. Every parent has a trick or a technique.

I was less creative. For my kids, the secret seemed to be:  cheese sauce. Granted, I probably canceled out any benefit brought to the table by the veggies, which ended up gasping for breath under the weight of that melted fromage. To make matters worse, (please don’t hate me), I used Cheese Whiz…a product name that always made us Willauer boys laugh.

The other day in the doctor’s office, I picked up a copy of Vegetarian Times. Now I am anything but a vegetarian, although I’ve cut down significantly on red meat. It was the cover photo that caught my eye:  Mac-and-Cheese-Style Cauliflower. I already love cauliflower. Steam it and add a little sea salt and I’m good, but this looked magnificent.

The original recipe called for a half cup of nutritional yeast. What the heck is that?? I did a little research and it looks like it’s pretty good stuff. It’s described as having a nutty, cheesy flavor and can be sprinkled on popcorn or garlic bread…not to mention that it’s the only reliable food source for vitamin B12. I’ll have to get some. In the meantime, I substituted a half cup of sour cream and reduced the amount of water. Give this recipe a try. It starts out as any cheese sauce worth it weight does, with a simple white sauce.

MAC-AND-CHEESE-STYLE CAULIFLOWER

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into medium florets
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
  • 2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, reserve one handful
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1½ cups breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup reserved liquid from cooking cauliflower

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets and boil for about 5 minutes. The florets should be just tender. Do not overcook. You don't want them to be mushy. Reserve ½ cup of liquid and then drain.

Melt the butter in the bottom of a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth, cooking for approximately one minute. Next whisk in the milk, garlic, and reserved cooking liquid. Increase heat to medium high and whisk constantly until sauce is thickened. Remove from heat as soon as thickening occurs and stir in cheese, sour cream, cayenne pepper and egg yolks. Stir until cheese is melted.

Grease a 9’x13” baking dish or spray with non-stick cooking spray. I’ve started to use a Misto® Gourmet Olive Oil Sprayer instead of non-stick cooking spray. The commercial non-stick sprays have a propellant that is not easily removed from cookware. Arrange cauliflower in bottom and pour cheese sauce evenly over it. Sprinkle the top with the breadcrumbs, topping that with the remaining shredded Cheddar cheese. After comparing my result with the Vegetarian Times picture, I decided to sprinkle the casserole with a little cheese the next time I make it. Spray the breadcrumb topping with olive oil, (or non-stick cooking spray).

Bake for 30 minutes or until the casserole is hot and bubbly and breadcrumbs are crisp and brown.

Click here for the original recipe from Vegetarian Times

Enjoy!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Len Faulkner Jr January 24, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Dave, again your humor has me laughing and the recipe makes me hungry!
carolina paul January 26, 2012 at 12:36 PM
dave, i happen to have nutritional yeast on hand....it IS great on fresh popcorn...and i have cauliflower...might just make this tonight...thanks for sharing!

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