Recipe: Cauliflower Cheese & Peas
I love traditional mac n’ cheese just as much as the next person. Comforting pasta, creamy cheese…what’s not to like? While mac n’ cheese is perfectly fine in moderation, this obviously isn’t a dish you can incorporate regularly into your diet if you’re trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
While Cauliflower Cheese & Peas isn’t exactly super low-calorie or low-fat, it’s a major improvement (health-wise) on the original recipe and packs just as much flavor. It’s definitely filling enough on its own (we ate it with Agave Sriracha Brussels Sprouts), but you could also incorporate it as a side dish for practically any meal.
What sets this cheesy cauliflower dish apart is, well, the cheese. Choosing a sharp white cheddar (I used Mull of Kintyre Extra Mature White Cheddar) means you’re able to get a much richer flavor from much less cheese. Seriously, do a taste test between this and the Kraft bagged variety and you’ll be amazed by the difference.
We’re big fans of peas, especially with cheese (Exhibit A), so throwing a bag of peas into this mixture was a no-brainer. The Panko bread crumbs add a delicious bit of crunch, and the freshly chopped green onions incorporate a fresh bit of bite. Seriously, get ready to devour this dish!
2 cauliflower heads, cut into florets
1 bag frozen peas
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 - 12 oz. can evaporated milk
2 oz. low-fat cream cheese
2 t. Grey Poupon mustard
2 t. + 1/2 t. garlic powder
1 t. smoked paprika
1/4 c. olive oil
2 1/4 c. shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1/4 c. colby jack cheese
About 1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs
Salt & pepper, to taste
Low-fat milk, as needed
Chopped green onions, to garnish
1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop the cauliflower into florets and add to a large plastic bag with the olive oil, smoked paprika and two teaspoons of the garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper and shake well to combine. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the cauliflower onto the sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, remove and toss, then bake for an additional 15 minutes. You want the cauliflower to be soft but not mushy, so add more time if needed.
2) Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour until lightly browned, about one minute. Gradually whisk in the evaporated milk and cook, whisking constantly, for about two minutes.
3) Stir in the Grey Poupon mustard, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and the cream cheese until slightly thickened, about two minutes.
4) Stir in the cheddar cheeses until melted and season with additional salt and pepper.
5) Pour the roasted cauliflower and frozen peas into the pot with the cheese. Stir well to combine. If the mixture is too thick, you might add an additional splash of milk.
6) Pour the mixture into a 9 in. x 13 in. pan and top with the colby jack cheese. Sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs. You want the surface of the dish to be fully covered in a light layer of bread crumbs.
7) Bake until bubbly, about 12 minutes, then add to the broiler for a few minutes until the top is browned and crunchy. Serve and top with chopped green onions.
Inspired by a recipe by Damn Delicious