Holiday Side Dish for Fans of Keto or Fans of Cheese
Recipe by Gino Escalante
With the year coming to an end, I am sure you have a few holiday events to attend. If you have difficulties staying in your dietary lane during this events, then this simple dish might help. After all, it’s essential to have food options that fit your diet and lifestyle. This one is Keto-friendly!
I made this dish on Thanksgiving for my wife’s family and got some great reviews. It’s the simplest version of a ‘faux mac and cheese’ made with cauliflower. It has all of the creamy goodness with none of the bloating pasta feeling.
6 lbs. of frozen cauliflower (at room temperature)
2 cups of heavy cream
4 oz. (half stick) of cream cheese
3 cups of shredded, sharp cheddar
Salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
One thing to note before we get started is that I am Portuguese and Latin. I cannot make food in servings smaller than 12-16 servings. So if you are looking to make something smaller than a platter that feeds a whole family AND have leftovers, then cut that recipe in half. The last thing, this is not for the faint of heart or the lactose intolerant.
1. Get your CrossFit grip training on by squeezing out as much water as you can from the cauliflower. You can do this by pressing it in a mesh strainer or wrapping it in cheesecloth and wringing it out. Other recipes will call for you to boil fresh cauliflower first and then wring it out, but buying frozen yields the same result. You could squeeze the water out with a towel if you’d like, but I find that using my hands is more effective and it breaks up the cauliflower into smaller, cheesier bites. The cauliflower will be dry enough when it shrinks down to about half of its original size. Set this aside while taking care of the next few steps.
2. In a large pot, simmer the cream, then add the cream cheese and stirs until it melts.
3. Once the cream cheese has melted, stir in the shredded cheese and stir until that has also melted.
4. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
5. Use oil spray to coat a pan.
6. Add cauliflower to pan. Pour cheese on top of the cauliflower and mix it all up.
7. Bake for 30-35 mins at 350 degrees. You will know it’s ready when it’s bubbly on the top.
8. Bonus Step: Set your broiler to “regular” heat. Add a bit more cheese and then broil for 5 minutes before serving to give it a crisp topping. It’ll look especially delightful when it comes out of the broiler.
You can fancy this dish up a bit if you want to. Add ½ teaspoon of nutmeg if you have it. Or, 1 tbsp of Dijon Mustard, if it’s already in the cupboard. I like the simpler version because there is a good chance that you already have salt and pepper available, so no need to buy any extra ingredients.
I don’t necessarily recommend that you bring this to a work party, you might stand out as a culinary genius or a goofball, there will be no in-between. However, if you must, I have another piece of advice…don’t call it “Cauliflower mac and cheese.” If you need to sound pompous, feel free to call this dish “Cauliflower Au Gratin” with an overly pronounced French accent. If you need to sound normal, go with “Cheesy Cauliflower Bites.” Fewer people will judge you.
Either way, it’s simple and delicious.