Cauli Cass ~* Gluten free!

Cauli cass is short for cauliflower casserole.

What. Don’t give me that look! Honey also looked at me kinda strange the first few times I said it, or even mentioned that we would be eating cauliflower casserole, but he was trusting, and with good cause…it’s delish! 😀 I like cauliflower I guess…it’s okay…better with Ranch, but in this casserole, it’s just fabulous, and it’s always nice to know your main component is a veggie.

I was inspired to make cauli cass by this recipe, found via FoodGawker, which I’d had bookmarked for a couple months, wanting to try it out, with my modifications. I love dishes that taste good no matter how many veggies you add to them. This is one of them. My original plan was to add green peas (something else I’d had a hankerin’ for lately…first time I recall this happening in my adult life), onion, and red pepper. I thought all of that sounded very cozy.

Onion must have taken this photo, since he wasn’t in it.

This would be the first of two attempts to make dinner with those dang peas, where the peas never showed up for their performance. That’s right, it’s the peas’ fault! They mind-controlled me into forgetting about them. Twice. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 😀

Tonight’s dish has 2 types of gluten-free, brown & white rice pasta: fussili (cousin of elbow macaroni) & penne… mostly because I didn’t have much of the fussili. I always salt my water with about 1 tsp of salt when I cook gluten-free pasta, because it just does NOT have the flavor of regular, delicimous gluteney pasta, in my opinion.

I got my pasta water boiling and pasta cooking as I cut my veggies.

I also got some EVOO heating in a skillet & in went my onion & pepper once the oil was hot.

I cut and added cauliflower last, breaking it up by hand and tossing it in as I went. I waited until all the cauli was in before I even stirred.

Cauliflower is beautiful. 🙂 I hadn’t noticed till now.

Since there’s baking to be done, I didn’t brown the veggies for very long. We like a little crunch & character left when it’s time to eat! No seasoning needed just yet…

Now it’s time to make the “sauce”…which is basically meatless gravy with cheese. Nice ‘n southern. Maybe its saving grace is the 2% milk-fat cheese? Maybe?

Maybe not. We’re gonna go ahead and melt some butter. 😉

We removed the veggies into a large heat-safe bowl and just used the same pan. I cut the amount of butter originally called for in half (to 1 1/2 tbsp) and things were fine.

Next, I added milk and then used my sifter to sift soy flour into the pan…soy keeps it gluten-free! (I sift soy flour, due to the fact that it gets a little clumpy in its box.)

Soy flour is a decent flour for gravy-makins. Never. Ever. For no reason on this earth will you use tapioca flour to try to make gravy. *shudders…recalling that gooey, gelatenous nightmare* Just go ahead and make that promise to yourself right now.

The brown in there comes from the bottom of the pan where we browned our veggies. It definitely gives it a rich, yummy flavor!

I cut the salt completely from the original recipe, since we salted the water for the pasta, and our cheeses will suffice for salty flavor.

I did keep the cup of cheese ingredient…I mean we needed enough to cover all the pasta and veggies. We’ve got ourselves a nice-sized casserole going here! This is a great dish you could make as big or small as you prefer and I like to cook big dishes because we prefer leftovers around here!

OKAY!!! Now that the cheese it melted, it’s time to get to business and put this baby together…which is likely to be the easiest thing you’ve ever done in your life.

Take the drained pasta and pour it into a casserole dish. You want your pasta al dente for casseroles so they don’t overcook in the baking process.

Combine your browned veggies with the cheese sauce in a bowl and then spoon onto pasta, distributing evenly over the dish.

I added spices at the end as an experiment. 😉 I sprinkled coarse ground pepper & chili powder right on top.

Lastly…just a itsy bitsy more…cheese! 😀 Just for a browning effect on top. That’s all. *nod nod*

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and let cool for 5. Then, you’re ready for a little piece of heaven. This was super-cozy and delish!

MMMMMM look at that baked cauliflower.

Closer up…to make ya drool. 😉

Ingredients for Cauli Cass:

– 5 c cooked pasta
– 1 red onion
– 1 red pepper
– 1 head of cauliflower
– 1 tbsp EVOO
– 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
– 1 1/2 c milk
– 3 tbsp soy flour
– 1/2 c + 3 tbsp low-fat shredded mozzerela
– 1/2 c 2% Velveeta (about 1/2 inch square cut off the ol’ log)
– 1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
– 1 tsp chili powder

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Bring water to a boil for pasta. I salted my water with 1 tsp salt.
  3. Cook pasta to al dente, strain & rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Leave in strainer for later.
  4. In large skillet, heat 1 tbsp EVOO on low-medium heat.
  5. Dice onion & toss into skillet once oil is hot. Stir a little to get it browning.
  6. Dice red pepper, toss into skillet & give another stir.
  7. Cut cauliflower florets from the head and break into smaller pieces by hand. Toss into skillet as you go and stir once the entire head has been added.
  8. Continue to brown for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then remove from heat into large heat-safe bowl.
  9. Melt butter in same skillet on low heat.
  10. Add milk.
  11. Add flour and slowly stir until incorporated.
  12. Add 1/2 c mozzerela & 1/2 c Velveeta cheese and stir until melted & smooth.
  13. Turn off stove and pour cheese sauce over veggies in the bowl. Stir gently.
  14. Pour pasta into ungreased baking dish.
  15. With large serving spoon, spoon cheesy veggie mix over pasta, distributing evenly.
  16. Sprinkle pepper & chili powder evenly over casserole.
  17. Sprinkle remaining 3 tbsp. mozzerela evenly onto casserole.
  18. Put casserole onto baking tray and slide into hot oven.
  19. Bake for 30 minutes.
  20. Cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!
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