RECIPE: Roasted Cauliflower and Cheese

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You can make this cozy dish — like mac and cheese, but noodle-free — with nutty, caramelized roasted cauliflower combined with a creamy, rich, garlicky-cheese sauce. It uses only a small amount of flour and breadcrumbs and can also be made gluten-free, if desired, by using gluten-free, all-purpose baking flour and gluten-free breadcrumbs.

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large bowl with smaller bowls of roasted cauliflower and cheese

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheese


  • Author: Vanessa Seder
  • Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/2 large heads cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds) cut into 1-inch florets (about 10 cups worth)
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs torn from a baguette
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded medium yellow cheddar (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (1/2 ounce)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, toss to combine, and spread out on the pan. Transfer to the oven and roast, tossing a few times during the cooking process, until the cauliflower is golden brown in parts, about 35 to 45 minutes. Set side.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs, thyme and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is toasted, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Set aside. 
  4. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour all at once, then stir constantly until the roux smells nutty, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Pour the milk into the mixture in a slow stream while whisking, and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. 
  6. Off heat, whisk in the cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese until fully melted and smooth. 
  7. Add the cauliflower to the cheese sauce and gently mix to combine. Transfer to bowls and sprinkle each with some of the breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.

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Vanessa Seder
Vanessa Seder
Vanessa Seder has worked in the food industry for close to 20 years as a recipe developer, food stylist, chef instructor, and author. Her cookbooks include: Eat Cool, (which received positive reviews from the New York Times and elsewhere) and the award-winning Secret Sauces. A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, Vanessa has developed recipes for Real Simple, All You, Health, Cooking Light, Hannaford’s Fresh, Ladies Home Journal—where she previously served as an associate food editor, and Maine The Way, among others. She lives with her family in Portland, Maine. She can be found online at vanessaseder.com and Instagram @vseder.
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