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My family’s favorite side dish would have to be Southern Macaroni Pie – a casserole made with elbow noodles, cheddar cheese, and an egg/milk mixture all baked together happily in a big pan. I have tried and tried to make a healthy version using various vegetables in place of the noodles, but all of my efforts were soupy messes and resembled vomit when cut into. I’m pretty sure some of my siblings have been scarred for life by seeing the desecration of one of their favorite foods served in such a blasé fashion.
Finally, I hit the jackpot: use cauliflower to replace the noodles but roast it before putting it into the casserole. Works like a charm. Don’t let the extra step scare you. Basically you just cut the cauliflower up like you would anyway, put it on a big pan, and plop it in the oven for 15 minutes to help it soften up and evaporate some of the moisture off before covering it with cheese and stuff. This way your end result is not mushy.
I’m sure I could make a more authentic version of Southern Macaroni Pie by just using Dreamfield’s Pasta, but I don’t have any and am not looking to invest in any if I can use a perfectly good vegetable in its place. Is this totally macaroni pie without the pasta? Nope, but it’s as good a substitute as you’ll get and I’m satisfied. Call it cauli au gratin if you like – it’s just plain good no matter what it’s called. And hey, even my dad liked it, which says a lot.
This easy casserole (only a few ingredients!) with its crispy cheese crust is the perfect side dish for a large family. It would be a great dish to serve to company or take to a potluck!
Question for the day (comment below!): have you made healthy versions of any of your family’s favorite side dishes?
You can find this recipe in my cookbook, Necessary Food.
- One head of fresh cauliflower
- 2-3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
- ½ cup cottage cheese
- 2 T oat fiber (use gluten free if gluten is an issue)
- Salt and pepper
- Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and spread out on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F to prepare for baking the casserole.
- Place the roasted cauliflower in a 9x13" pan and top with the cheddar cheese (you can vary the amount according to your personal taste).
- Blend the eggs, almond milk, cottage cheese, and oat fiber together until completely smooth. Pour over the cauliflower and cheese evenly.
- Top with salt and pepper to taste and bake at 350 degrees F (well, your oven might still be cooking down) for 30 minutes or until the casserole is set all the way through. For best results, let the casserole set for 5 minutes before serving.
- Ninja blender
- Oat Fiber
- A gluten free oat fiber can be purchased at the Trim Healthy Mama online store.