Yes, cauliflower can be tasty with this comforting Cheesy Herb & Cauliflower Bake!
As a child, cauliflower was in my top 5 most horrible veggie category and as an adult I had convinced myself that with all the veggies I already eat, not eating cauliflower wouldn't really do me any harm but somewhere in the back of my mind, I have always wanted to be able to enjoy cauliflower because I know it is so healthy and nutritious, great for gut health and also a great source of fibre - but man, it's cauliflower.
But the universe always finds a way and while browsing my Facebook feed I saw a video for Cauliflower Biscuits by Cooking Light that inspired me to create my own cauliflower creation!
This bake is creamy, like a potato mash but the crumbled bacon and lightly toasted panko crumbs on top add a lovely texture - and this recipe and also gave me the perfect excuse to use the lovely, aromatic fresh herbs growing in the garden!
With the smoky bacon it is really important to ensure you render the fat out and cook it until crisp. If the strips looked cooked and are mostly dark and crisp but a few parts are still slightly soft, that is perfectly fine, otherwise you run the risk of burning the bacon if you continue cooking. Cooking it this way allows you to use less bacon but you get a lot more flavour.
You could also go completely meatless and just leave the bacon out and it would still be really tasty and flavorsome as you have the cheeses and herbs in there already. Perhaps substitute a small amount of feta in place of the bacon or something salty to balance the flavours.
Some people don't like cooking in the microwave so alternatively you can steam your veggies until tender. I don't recommend that you boil the cauliflower as it would absorb too much moisture and this will affect the end result.
Please remember when cooking in a microwave to ALWAYS cook in glass and never plastic as the plastic can leach chemicals into your food - this is the same reason why I mention in the recipe not to let the plastic wrap touch your vegetables while they are cooking in the microwave.
The result is a bake that will convert any cauliflower hater guaranteed! We had it for lunch with crusty freshly baked bread and butter, freshly chopped avocado, seasoned with lemon, salt and pepper and some light sour cream - and it was a-ma-zing! Mum and Dad liked it so much they served it at their next at their dinner party. It's a lovely side dish to your choice of meat, pork or chicken alongside a fresh, crisp salad.
YOU WILL NEED
2-3 slices of hickory-smoked bacon chopped (rind removed but keep the fat, fat = flavour)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 head of cauliflower leaves removed and broken into rough florets
1 large potato about 250g/9 ounces chopped into small pieces
3 cloves of garlic, grated, or finely chopped
1/3 cup Greek yogurt OR sour cream
2 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup good quality cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1/4 cup basil leaves roughly chopped
3-4 chives roughly chopped
1/2-1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
A little rice bran oil if needed for the frying of the bacon and panko crumbs
1 small red chilli
3-4 basil leaves finely chopped for garnishing
Preheat your oven to 180°C/375°F.
Take a large glass bowl, add the cauliflower florets and chopped potato, cover with plastic wrap (ensuring it does not touch your veggies) and cook on high in your microwave for 10 minutes or until tender ALTERNATIVELY you can steam the cauliflower and boil the potatoes until tender.
Take a medium sized non-stick pan and heat over a medium heat add the chopped bacon and cook until the fat is rendered out and the bacon becomes nice and crispy. If you feel there is not enough fat in the bacon, add a little oil to the pan and continue to cook until done and set aside.
Add a little oil to the same pan and return to a medium heat and toast your panko bread crumbs until golden brown, season with a touch of salt, empty into a bowl and set aside (do not leave in the pan as it might continue cooking and burn).
Once your cauliflower and potato is cooked and tender, pop it into your food processor OR with a stick blender blend until you have a smooth puree.
Add the garlic, yogurt, butter, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, basil leaves, chives, the two egg yolks and chilli flakes and puree again until all the ingredients are well blended.
Add the bacon bits and mix in.
Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper).
In a clean medium-sized bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and once done, gently fold into the cauliflower mixture.
Lightly grease a 22cm/9" baking dish and pour the mixture into the dish, smooth the surface and then top with the toasted panko bread crumbs
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and top with a finely chopped small red chilli, chilli flakes (optional) and some extra basil/chives before serving. For a more decadent meal, top with some sour cream and/or avocado.
SERVE 6 AS A SIDE 3-4 AS A MEAL
Tried this recipe? Tag @eatinstylebyferitta or #eatinstylebyferitta so I can see your creations and show you some love ♥