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Cauliflower Casserole With Cheese And Pancetta

Cauliflower casserole with cheese and pancetta! Cauliflower really is the superhero of vegetables. It’s power? shape shifting, you need a substitute for basically any recipe? Cauliflower is there. Now, just because Cauliflower is the main ingredient in this recipe, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. This dish is HEAVY but DELICIOUS!


Recipe by Mark Calaminici | Food Loves Company

Serves 4


1 large head of cauliflower or 2 small heads (about 3 lbs) cut into bite-sized florets

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt, to taste

Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

chili flakes, to taste

120 g pancetta, cubed

½ small sweet onion, finely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

5 tbsp butter

¼ cup all purpose flour

2 cups whole milk, or 2%

75g Asiago, coarsely grated

75g smoked mozzarella, coarsely grated

3 tbsp chives, finely chopped

Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Place cauliflower florets in a large bowl, drizzle extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper, chili flakes are optional. Toss to incorporate all the ingredients. Place cauliflower florets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in oven and roast for 20-25 minutes. Set aside.

3. Heat large frying pan over low-medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until just beginning to brown. Add onions and continue to cook until onions are tender. Add garlic and more chili flakes (optional). Sauté until the pancetta, onions and garlic are cooked. Set aside. You may season with salt and freshly cracked pepper depending on how salty the pancetta is.

4. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Melt butter and add the flour whisking continuously. Let the mixture (roux) cook for about 5-6 minutes. You will start to see a golden colour and smell like a pie crust is baking, that’s when you will know to start with the next step. This next step assures no lumps for your béchamel. Remove saucepan from heat and pour just a little bit of the milk in a steady stream while whisking continuously. Once everything looks smooth you can pour in some more and continue or you can just pour in the rest, whatever you like. Just make sure to do the first step correctly to avoid lumps. Bring béchamel to a simmer and cook for about 6-8 minutes, whisking frequently.

5. Reduce heat to low and add cheese. Mix until melted. Add in the pancetta mixture and mix to incorporate everything.

6. In a large bowl add roasted cauliflower and pour over cheese mixture and add 2 tbsp of chives. Mix to incorporate everything and transfer to a baking dish. Top with as much Parmigiano-Reggiano as you like and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes at 425 or until heated through and cheese is golden and bubbly. You can place under the broiler for a couple minutes as well to get the topping extra crispy. Garnish with the rest of the chives. Enjoy!

Until next time, ciao!


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