I’ve got an amazing side dish that has become an unexpected favorite at my table. It’s got everything you’d expect in a baked potato casserole but instead of the potatoes, I’ve substituted something a bit different but equally as delicious: cauliflower. Cauliflower has become all the rage these days as a healthier alternative to certain carbs, like in a pizza crust or as a substitute for rice. In the case of my cauliflower casserole, I can tell you that I might put this ahead of the potato version on my list of favorites. It’s just that good!
What I love about this dish is that it stays true to those qualities that I love in a comfort-food casserole. And I can honestly say that I don’t miss the potatoes at all. I’ll start by roasting the potatoes for a bit, tossing them in some oil, salt, and pepper first and then I’ll pop them into the oven. I’ll also pop in the slices of bacon while the cauliflower roasts.
To transform the roasted cauliflower into a creamy and rich cheesy casserole, I’ll take that cooked bacon, now chopped into bits, cream cheese, sour cream, some creamy-melty cheddar cheese, and salty Parmesan. This will go on top of the cauliflower and go back into the oven.
I’ll keep an eye on the casserole for this last bit. I’ll do my best to patiently wait until the cheese becomes a beautiful golden color and then my loaded cauliflower casserole is ready to be devoured. I’ve saved some of the chopped bacon to use as a garnish and some chopped green onion for a little bit of peppery-freshness.
Sometimes a simple change to a recipe staple can make a conventional dish taste fresh and new. I just love the bit of crunch that remains in the cauliflower and all of that savory cheesiness keeps this dish in that “comfort” category. A loaded cauliflower casserole is a delicious way to serve up vegetables that everyone will enjoy!
Loaded Cauliflower Casserole
Serves 6 45 minutes
- 6 cups cauliflower florets (about 2 heads)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 slices bacon
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 3/4 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, grated and divided
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated and divided
- Green onion, finely chopped, as needed
- Arrange the racks in your oven to the lower and upper thirds and preheat to 425°F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Add the cauliflower, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to a large bowl and toss to combine. Spread in an even layer in the baking dish and bake on lower oven rack until tender and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, lay out strips of bacon on foil-lined baking sheet and bake on upper rack of oven until crispy, 10-15 minutes. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once cool, chop or crumble.
- In a large bowl (can use same bowl you used for cauliflower), beat together cream cheese and sour cream with an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in half of the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and half of the bacon.
- Dollop the cream cheese mixture over the cooked cauliflower and top with remaining cheeses.
- Return to upper rack in oven and baked until cheese is melted and golden brown, 5-8 minutes.
- Top with green onion and remaining bacon, serve, and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Well Plated.