Loaded Cheesy Cauliflower Bake: Hey there, fellow potato lover! Get ready to discover your new favorite dinner casserole that takes inspiration from loaded baked potatoes but with a twist – we’re using roasted cauliflower as the base. Just imagine those delicious florets smothered in a rich cheddar cheese sauce, mingling with loads of crispy bacon bits and chopped scallions, all baked together until it’s bubbly and golden.
6 to 8
- 2 medium heads of cauliflower (about 3 pounds total), cut into bite-size florets (about 12 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 8 strips bacon (about 8 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups grated sharp white or yellow cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
- 3 medium scallions, thinly sliced, divided
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
- Arrange a rack in the top third of the oven (about 6 to 8 inches from the broiling element), and heat to 425°F.
- Place half of the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat and cook until the fat has rendered out and the bacon is crispy, flipping halfway through about 10 minutes total. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off the fat into a heatproof bowl and set aside. Repeat with cooking the remaining bacon. Once cool, crumble the bacon into small pieces. Meanwhile, roast the cauliflower.
- Place the cauliflower florets in a broiler-safe 9×13-inch or other 3-quart baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease, season with the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and toss to coat. Arrange in an even layer and roast until just tender and beginning to brown about 25 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon to the now-empty skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle with the flour and whisk until fragrant, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly so that it doesn’t clump. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue cooking the sauce, stirring constantly, until it has noticeably thickened and coats the back of the spoon, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the cheese one handful at a time, stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and carefully toss to evenly coat the florets. Sprinkle with half the bacon and half the scallions, and gently toss again.
- Bake until the sauce is bubbling, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn on the broiler, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top, and broil until the top is golden-brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining bacon and scallions before serving.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.