Cauliflower quinoa “mac” & cheese is a great alternative to a traditional au gratin holiday dish, or even a lighter side dish to be served with the leftover turkey the next day. I used a larger baking dish, and spread the mixture out about ¾ inch thick, and cut it into bars. So far, I’ve eaten this dish with chicken, eggs, turkey, and roasted asparagus – it pairs well with everything. Cheese and sneaky vegetables – who knew!!!
-1 head cauliflower
-¾ cup quinoa, dry
-8 oz. cheese (I used 50% reduced fat cheddar)
-1 cup milk (I used fat free)
-½ cup plain greek yogurt (I used 0%)
-shy of ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
-shy of ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, plain
-1t italian seasoning
-2T garlic onion puree
Preheat your oven to 375. Start by cooking your quinoa in water (or broth) per the instructions on the package. While that is cooking up, wash, chop, and “rice” your cauliflower. To rice the cauliflower, place florets in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower looks like, well, rice – it should be grainy and not too fine, so that it will be able to hold the cheese later on. At this poiint, you can either quickly blanch the cauliflower to take away some of the crunch and flavor, or keep it raw. I kept it raw because I like the flavor of cauliflower, and I thought it would be a great texture pair with the quinoa (I was right…but feel free to blanch if you don’t love the taste). Grate your cheddar cheese, and season your breadcrumbs – set aside. Next, add the garlic onion puree to the bottom of a pot, and heat over medium. When the puree looks translucent and you can smell the garlic, add the milk and cheddar.
As the cheddar begins to melt. add in the yogurt – stir, and heat until combined. At this point, your quinoa should be done – remove from heat, and add to large mixing bowl. When the cheese mixture is done, you’re ready to assemble. Combine the quinoa and cauliflower, then fold in the hot cheese sauce. Spray a glass baking dish (9×13) with cooking spray, spread the mixture evenly throughout, and press to remove any air pockets.
Sprinkle the top with the parmesan and seasoned breadcrumbs, and bake for 20 minutes or until the top starts to brown. When its ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing into bars.
I made a lot of this dish my first go-around, and I was not dissapointed. I ate some all week, and froze the rest – it reheats perfectly!