It’s prime cauliflower season, and this is consistently one of the most popular dishes around our table at Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s no need, though, to wait for a special occasion to enjoy this recipe. If you’re looking for a tasty dish for the weekend ahead, this is one you may want to try.
You’ll see some options in the ingredients below; if your diet is vegetarian or vegan, you’re already accustomed to creatively playing around with recipes and I hope you enjoy this one.
A note, now, regarding quantities of each ingredient. This recipe – sans vegan and vegetarian options – originated with an aunt-in-law who shared the general gist of the recipe with my mother-in-law. She didn’t measure ingredients; she just picked a casserole dish and filled it.
While it may seem a little different (or daunting) to try a recipe with unclear indicators of ingredient measurements or the number of people the recipe will serve, this will make sense after you’ve tried the recipe once. Before shopping for or preparing the ingredients, take out the casserole dish you’d like to use and then estimate what you’ll need to purchase or pull out of the fridge and pantry.
- cauliflower – one head
- bacon or, for the vegan, Tofurkey brand tempeh bacon or eggplant marinated with soy sauce and liquid smoke – approximately .25 pound
- cheddar cheese or Daiya, which is made from arrowroot and cassava, and which the vegan in our family likes for both its taste and its melting consistency – sufficient slices to cover cauliflower in casserole dish
- whole wheat or multi-grain bread – four to six slices
- tomatoes – two to three, to suit the size of your casserole dish
- green onions
- salt, sugar to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C.
- If substituting the eggplant for bacon, marinate and prepare it.
- Otherwise, begin by cooking the bacon or tempeh bacon/eggplant and then slicing it into small pieces.
- Break the bread into fine crumbs and mix in a bowl with the bacon. Set aside.
- Cut the cauliflower into small pieces, in portions suitable for eating without needing further cutting. You’ll want to cut sufficient pieces to cover the base of your casserole dish of choice, so wash the chopped pieces and fit into casserole dish to confirm the quantity you’ll need.
- Place the cauliflower in a steamer.
- Next, follow the same approach in slicing the cheese or Daiya and placing it in the casserole dish until you have enough at hand for one layer. Remove the cheese or Daiya from the dish and set aside to be placed on the cauliflower once you’ve steamed it.
Steam the cauliflower. Once the water begins to boil, check the cauliflower after three to five minutes. You’ll want to remove the cauliflower from the steamer as soon as it becomes tender; do not cook it as thoroughly as if you were about to serve it.Assembling / Layering the Casserole
- Place the cauliflower pieces in the base of the casserole dish.
- Immediately after, place the cheese/Daiya slices on top of the cauliflower.
- Spoon the bacon and bread crumbs or tempeh bacon/eggplant and bread crumb mixture atop the cauliflower and cheese.
- Slice the tomatoes at this stage and layer the slices atop the ingredients already in your dish. If you’re enjoying ripe, juicy tomatoes, be sure to capture any juice from your cutting board and add it to the casserole.
- Chop up a green onion or two, to taste, and sprinkle the pieces across the top of the dish.
- Do the same with fresh basil, to taste. Your dish will be looking very colourful.
- Sprinkle a small spoonful of sugar over the dish. We enjoy the dish without salt; if you like to cook with it, sprinkle a small amount, to taste, over the dish.
Bake and Enjoy
- Cover the dish and bake for one hour at 350 F.
I’ve not yet made the dish with the more colourful cauliflowers such as the beauties below, from our local farmers’ market, but am thinking we’ll have to try this approach sometime soon.