Daleo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Daleo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

My husband’s favorite meal consists of heated frozen fish sticks with tartar sauce, warmed frozen peas and a box of prepared Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. I wouldn’t touch any one of those three things and since I’ve known him, I’ve never made this delicious dish for him. Sorry, hon!  I cannot stand eating anything from the sea; I detest peas and Mom told whenever she’d eaten peas, I wouldn’t breastfeed as a newborn; I don’t buy frozen or canned vegetables [yuck]; and I prefer only home-made mac and cheese. Wow, I sound like a food snob. Actually, I just like fresh food and I am used to taking the time to prepare it. Should I apologize for that?

We all love mac and cheese at our house, so when I came across this recipe, I had an idea. I’d reconstruct my husband’s favorite meal in a more Paleo way! Since I used cheese and the fish sticks we’ve moved from house-to-house (he’s had the bag since before we were married) in his meal, we’re calling it a Daleo dinner since his name is Dale and it’s not a perfectly Paleo dish. However, the mac and cheese is gluten-free, hurrah!

I think he forgave my transgression of never preparing his favorite meal when I surprised him with this dinner right before his birthday: fish sticks, homemade tartar sauce, fresh sugar snap peas, “Daleo” mac and cheese made with cauliflower and a side salad. HE LOVED IT. We didn’t miss the pasta AT ALL and even though we had less bacon than the original recipe called for, we found it to be enough bacon for the dish. We are seriously crazy about this dish and after posting the photo on Facebook, a lot of our friends made it and loved it, too. Please try this recipe – it’s a keeper!

These are the notes I made on my copy of the recipe:

This was *so* delicious, we could eat this every night! As we ate it, I said I’d NEVER miss pasta if I could only eat macaroni and cheese this way. We both had a second helping because it was too tasty to refrigerate. The original recipe was vague, so I am noting the changes I made. Here’s how the recipe was vague: it didn’t tell me how to prepare the garlic cloves or what to do with them after adding them to the sauce pan. It didn’t explain the method to steam the cauliflower. It also didn’t specify the true quantity of cheese to use: “one bag” is very subjective!

We LOVED it so much, I’m making it again tomorrow! Here’s my version of the original recipe and how I will make it from now on. Click here to pin the recipe for Daleo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese.

Daleo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

1/4 – 1/2 pound of thick-cut bacon, sliced into lardons (small strips)
1 very large head of raw cauliflower or 1-1/2 medium heads, chopped into bite sized florets
1 T. butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced
7 ounces (just over half a can) of full fat coconut milk
4 ounces full fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tsp. arrowroot powder, divided
8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

First I want to say this is a very forgiving recipe. Use more or less cauliflower, bacon, garlic or cheese. Use sharp cheddar. Use Gorgonzola. Make it your own tasty recipe, if you like!

Sprinkle the cut bacon pieces in a hot, large skillet, preheated to medium-high. My burner shows numbers, so I cook bacon on level 6. Let the bacon cook, and stir occasionally until all the pieces start to brown. Don’t cook it too much because you’ll finish cooking it in the oven.

While the bacon is cooking, steam the cauliflower florets. I have a pot with a steamer basket, so I filled it halfway with water, placed the cauliflower in the basket, put on the lid and steamed on medium heat while I prepared the bacon and sauce. It probably took about 10 minutes and my veggies were not mushy at all. You want them to still be crisp-tender, so steam them the way that works best for you.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the bacon pieces to a paper towel to drain the fat. Pour off most of the bacon fat and discard. Return the greasy pan to the stove and turn the burner down to medium (level 5) heat. Add the butter and once it melts, add the fresh minced garlic. I shoot the garlic right into the pan from my garlic press. Don’t let the garlic burn! Stir for 30-60 seconds and then pour in the coconut milk and cream cheese. Stir frequently to melt the cream cheese. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to the sauce and stir well to combine. Once combined, add the first teaspoon of arrowroot powder. Stir well and let the sauce thicken. Add the second teaspoon of arrowroot powder and stir well. Once the sauce is thickened, turn off the heat.

Pour the steamed cauliflower (drain it first if you microwaved it in water) in a non-greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Sprinkle the cooled, cooked bacon pieces all over the cauliflower. Pour all the sauce over the cauliflower and bacon, being careful to get some sauce on every floret. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and salt, if desired.

Bake for 18 minutes, then broil on high for 2 more minutes until cheese is browned. Serve hot, and devour!

Here’s the ooey-gooey cooked goodness:

Daleo Cauliflower Mac and CheeseThis is my husband’s plate:

Fish sticks, peas, mac and cheeseHere’s my plate: no fish sticks, thank you very much!Daleo Cauliflower Mac and CheeseI took another photo, so here it is:Daleo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

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