i've always been one of those people who despise the idea of taking something very healthy and turning it into an indulgence...until now.
though cauliflower in it's natural state is very healthy, everything i've added to it to make this dish has made it decidedly not so. however, the flavors imparted from the alfredo are so perfect with the crisp vegetable, that i can't help but smile when i eat it.
i know that you will allow yourself to slip up on your diet with this recipe...trust me, it's worth it!
3 slices bacon
1 onion, chopped fine
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
2.5 to 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 to 4 cups of milk
2 cups parmagianno reggiano, grated
2 cups pecorino romano, grated
1 head cauliflower; trimmed, cleaned, and sliced
fresh grated nutmeg
fresh ground pepper
preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
cut the bacon into small pieces using kitchen shears. heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over high heat and add the bacon, render until it’s browned. using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan. add the onion to the pan and reduce the heat to medium high. stir for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to get soft and then add the garlic. stir for about 3 minutes more, until both are soft and then remove to the same bowl as the bacon. set these aside.
in the same pan, add the butter and flour and mix them together until they form a paste. let this mixture heat in the pan for a few minutes, moving it around so that it doesn't burn. add in the milk, and using a whisk, break up the paste in the milk. (the mixture will slowly thicken, it should be the pretty thick, but still pourable. if it gets too thick, add more milk, a little at a time.) lower the heat to medium and slowly add in 1/2 a cup of the parmagianno reggiano and 1/2 a cup of the pecorino romano. stir until melted, and then grate in fresh pepper to taste and a tiny bit of fresh nutmeg. stir the onions and the bacon back to the sauce and turn off the heat. set this aside.
spread about 1/4 cup of the alfredo mixture onto the bottom of a small casserole. then add in one layer of the sliced cauliflower (it's sliced - not left in florets - so that it can cook in the casserole and doesn't have to be steamed first) then top this with more of the alfredo mixture and a layer of the cheeses. repeat this until you have reached the top. sprinkle the top with a tiny bit of pepper and a little more nutmeg.
cover the dish with tin foil (or a cover if it comes with one) and cook for 30 minutes at 375. after the first 30 minutes, remove the foil and cook for an additional 30 minutes uncovered. pierce the cauliflower in the center with a paring knife to ensure that all of it is cooked through and soft. if it's still too hard, put it back in the oven for about five minutes at a time.
once done, remove from the oven, cover and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving. enjoy!
this is not the kind of dish you serve every week for dinner. it's a little labor intensive, and time consuming, but it's very good and totally worth the effort. i can see myself replacing a vegetable dish with this at my next thanksgiving table...or even bringing it to a bridal or baby shower.