Baked Cauliflower and Chicken With Cheese Sauce
Baked Cauliflower and Chicken with delicious creamy sauce is a fantastic side dish that combines tender cauliflower with chicken. It’s a great side dish for a crowd because it is both quick and inexpensive. Cauliflower is always a favorite option when I plan to make something quick and easy. Steamed cauliflower smothered in a cheese sauce and baked to crispy golden is delicious and the perfect lazy day side dish. This simple version is a good starting point, but there are so many ways you can experiment and find a flavor combo that makes your taste buds happy! Using a mix of different cheese will deepen flavors and also the gooey-gooey texture that everyone loves. Look no further for absolute comfort food that is family-friendly, and it meets cauliflower Au gratin in taste.
Cauliflower is a gluten-free, low-crab substitute for rice or pasta. It is rich in nutrients like Vitamin C, anti-oxidants, and dietary fiber. Cauliflower has a subtle flavor-a slight nutty taste and sweetness to it. For this recipe, you can use steamed, blanched, or roasted cauliflower. Layer steamed cauliflower and pan-fried chicken, whip up béchamel sauce and add for favorite cheese and pour it over the cauliflower. Top with extra cheese and bread crumbs and bake for a nice crusty topping. Well, does this sound simple? It doesn’t get any easier than that. Give this recipe a try. You will surely love it. Happy cooking!
Variations and Add-ins for the Baked Cauliflower casserole
Steaming the cauliflower– Wash and cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces that are uniform. When steaming the cauliflower, steam until slightly tender, but not soft. It will finish cooking in the oven.
Blanching the cauliflower– Bring water to a boil and add the cauliflower flowerets, reduce the heat and simmer for three to four minutes until crisp-tender. Once it is blanched, strain out the excess water using a colander. Make sure there is no excess liquid before adding it to the casserole.
Baking the cauliflower– Roasting deepens the subtle flavor of the cauliflower. Break the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces as uniform as possible so they all roast at relatively the same speed. Make sure you dry the cauliflower with a paper towel. Preheat the oven, to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet, with parchment paper. Arrange cauliflower florets on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss well and roast for 15-20 minutes until florets are fork-tender and browned. Remove from oven and set aside. You can also use the frozen or riced version of cauliflower.
Chicken– Cut boneless chicken into bite-sized. Marinate with paprika, salt, and pepper. Pan fry chicken till both sides are crispy and golden brown. Layer the chicken along with the cauliflower. You can substitute chicken with minced meat.
Bacon– Bacon tastes delicious with cheesy cauliflower casserole. Cook 6-8 slices of bacon. Crumble and add as a topping along with the cheese and bread crumbs.
Other delicious options are oven-roasted tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, or sun-dried tomatoes.
The sauce for this recipe is simple béchamel sauce with butter, milk, and flour. You can substitute milk with heavy cream. In a saucepan, melt the butter at low heat, and add flour. Roast till it slightly changes color and has a nutty flavor. When adding the milk, pour slowly while mixing it in at the same time. Stir until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper, nutmeg, and cheese and whisk it all together, make sure you get a thick pour-able consistency. You can use your favorite cheese. This recipe uses Parmesan, cheddar, and mozzarella cheese. For an extra kick of flavor, use mature cheddar. Using a mix of Gruyere and cheddar for oozy-gooey cheese sauce and deep flavors.
Baked Cauliflower and Chicken With Cheese Sauce Recipe
1 large head of Cauliflower
1 lb chicken
Paprika- 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Pepper- a pinch
For the sauce
Unsalted butter- 3 tbs
All purpose flour- 3 tbs
Milk- 2 cup
Ground nutmeg- a pinch
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese- 1 tbs
White cheddar grated- 1/2 cup
Garlic powder- 1/2 tsp
Paprika- 1/2 tsp
Black pepper powder- 1/8 tsp
Panko bread crumbs- 2 tbs
Mozzarella cheese or sharp cheddar cheese- 1/2 cup
Chopped parsley for garnish
Cut chicken into small pieces. Marinate the chicken with paprika powder, salt, and pepper. Heat oil in a pan and stir fry the chicken till it gets evenly browned up and slightly crispy. Using a slotted spoon, drain and set aside.
Wash and separate the flowerets. Steam the cauliflower flowerets for 3 minutes till crisp-tender and set aside.
Melt butter in a heavy bottom saucepan over low, medium heat, and add flour. Cook, stirring constantly, with a wire whisk for two minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Make sure there are no lumps. Whisk until it thickens and bubbly. Remove from the heat and add grated white cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg powder, salt, and pepper. Stir until cheese melts.
Transfer steamed cauliflower florets to a greased baking dish. Add the pan-fried chicken. Pour the sauce evenly on top. Sprinkle garlic powder, paprika, remaining cheese, and chopped parsley and bread crumbs on top. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 15- 20 minutes or until the top is golden. Enjoy!
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Hope you will all enjoy!