Cauliflower Casserole

Nina Brockelman

When it comes to dinner, it’s always difficult to find a dish that satisfies my whole family. My mom is a health nut, my dad is a meat-lover, my sister is a picky eater with multiple food allergies, and my brother is rarely interested in a meal that doesn’t come out of a Cheetos bag or a Lucky Charms box. Needless to say, it came much to my surprise that something as unconventional as a cauliflower-based casserole could please everyone. Whenever I make this for dinner, everyone in my family is reaching for second helpings and there are rarely any leftovers by the time we are all finished. This dish is delicious, comforting, and full of flavor—a family dinner fan-favorite in my house.

 

Ingredients:

  • ⅔ cup breadcrumbs

  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

  • 2 medium sized heads of cauliflower

  • 2 tsp of salt

  • 6 raw herbed chicken sausages

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion

  • 2 cans of crushed peeled tomatoes

  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves

  • 4 tsp minced garlic

Materials:

  • Large pot

  • Colander

  • Large stovetop pan

  • Casserole dish

First, you will begin by preheating your oven to 350°—you know the drill. Then, mix ⅔ cup of breadcrumbs and ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese in a bowl and set aside. Grab a large pot and heat 3 quarts of water on the stovetop. While waiting for the water to boil, cut two medium-sized heads of cauliflower into bite-size florets. This is my favorite part, and the jury is out on whether or not that makes me insane. I just find it relaxing to cut vegetables… don’t judge. Anyways, by now your water should be boiling. Add the cauliflower florets and 2 teaspoons of salt to the pot, and boil for approximately two minutes. You want the florets to be cooked, but still firm, as they make up the base of the dish. Drain the cauliflower in a colander and briefly run cold water over them to stop the cooking process, then return it to the pot and remove from heat.

Next, whip out a stovetop pan and get ready to decase some sausages! I use 6 raw herbed chicken sausages and decase them by hand. I’m not very good at doing this gracefully, nor am I ever able to keep the sausages intact, so this recipe is a blessing; the sausage needs to be broken up into small pieces anyways, so no need to stress about this messy process. Place the sausages—or pieces of sausage, as is often my case—in a stovetop pan on medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. 

Break them up into small pieces as you let them cook for approximately 10 minutes, moving them around on occasion to ensure thorough cooking. In the meantime, dice a yellow onion and open 2 cans of crushed peeled tomatoes. When the sausage is fully cooked, lower your stovetop heat to medium-low and add the diced onion, 1 tablespoon of thyme leaves, and 4 teaspoons of minced garlic to the pan. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Then, add 1 ½ to 2 cans of the crushed peeled tomatoes and cook for approximately 5 minutes longer, continuing to stir frequently. 

Now for the fun part—the actual casserole! Start by transferring the contents of your stovetop pan to the large pot containing the cauliflower. This is going to take a lot of stirring, as the sauce should evenly coat all of the florets and the sausage and onion pieces should be evenly dispersed throughout the dish. Then, pour the mixture into a casserole dish and flatten the top using a spatula. Sprinkle your breadcrumb and parmesan cheese mixture (from earlier) on top, creating an even layer—don’t be shy!—and drizzle about one tablespoon of olive oil on top of that. By now, your oven should be heated; bake the casserole for approximately 25 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are browned and the sauce is bubbling over. Doesn’t that look fantastic? Smell it. I know you want to. Good, right?

Don’t get too excited; let cool for a couple minutes before serving, but serve hot! My family and I like to sprinkle a little extra grated parmesan cheese on top while we’re eating, in addition to salt and pepper. If you’re feeling spunky, hot sauce tastes great with this dish too. The cauliflower casserole never fails to please in my house, and I hope you’ll be able to say the same. Enjoy!