Holiday Loaded-up Cauliflower Casserole
8 ounces organic, no-sugar bacon slices, cooked and coarsely chopped, divided
2 (1½-pound) heads cauliflower, leaves and stem trimmed and cut into bite-size florets
1 (8-ounce) package organic cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, organic preferred
1 teaspoon roasted garlic granules (or garlic powder)
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups), divided
6 ounces pepper Jack cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups), divided
1 medium organic carrot cut into julienne matchsticks
¼ cup finely chopped fresh organic parsley, divided
Place oven rack in the center position and begin heating the oven to 425-degrees.
Place bacon strips onto a rimmed baking pan and roast for about 15-17 minutes, turning once. Drain bacon on a paper towel. Pour 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat into a 13-by-9-inch casserole dish and coat the bottom and sides. Set aside.
Add about 1 inch of water to a deep saucepan and place a stainless-steel steamer basket into the pan. Transfer the cauliflower florets to the steamer basket and cover the pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and steam for 20 minutes, or until easily pierced with a sharp, thin knife. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
While the cauliflower steams, in a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer mix together cream cheese, sour cream, garlic granules, white pepper and salt until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Fold in 1 cup each of the cheese, half the bacon, the carrot and half the parsley. Fold in warm cauliflower. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining bacon and cheese.
Bake until cheese is melted and starts to brown around the edge, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve.
Nutrition values per serving: 266 calories (75 percent from fat), 22.2 g fat (12.4 g saturated fat), 7.6 g carbohydrates (5.3 net carbs), 3.5 g sugars, 2.4 g fiber, 10.8 g protein, 63 mg cholesterol, 430 mg sodium.
Suggestions: Start bringing cream cheese to room temperature for about 2 hours before use.
Although I did not try it, 3 pounds of frozen cauliflower florets could be used to cut down on the preparation time. Bring the frozen cauliflower to room temperature, drain off any water, warm slightly in the microwave (do not steam) and use like the already steamed fresh cauliflower.
SaltSense: Omitting the added sea salt reduces the sodium per serving to 333 milligrams.
Based on a recipe from Southern Living magazine.