Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cauliflower Sausage Casserole

The weather is getting a bit nippy here in the Northeast.

Or maybe Pennsylvania is considered mid-Atlantic?  

Regardless, the chill in the air excuses our tendency to enjoy stick-to-our-ribs favorites, because, after all, we’ll need that extra layer that may appear during colder months to insulate our body’s core.

At least that’s the science lore.

But every now and again, we find a healthy alternative — a delicious, winter insulator poser — to help satisfy our seasonal cravings and still be able to fit into our favorite jeans come Spring.  Such is the case with the Cauliflower Sausage Casserole that C. made last week.

Let’s talk about cauliflower.  Like its cousins, cabbage, kale, and broccoli, cauliflower is cruciferous vegetable and a good-for-you rock star.  It is high in antioxidant nutrients that assist with body detoxification, vitamin K to defend against inflammation and support our cardiovascular system and the fiber helps us digest what we eat.  

Plus it’s just so good.  

C. bought the cauliflower she used at the local Farmer’s Market.  Cauliflower likes a cool climate in which to grow and, like most other vegetables, needs about six hours of sun per day.   
Something I did not know is when the cauliflower heads are a few inches wide their leaves are supposed to grow over their little floral heads, to keep them tender and white.  Sometimes this doesn’t happen as nature planned and a little twine or a clothespin can help this process along.  In about a week or two after the covering, the cauliflower head will be ready for harvest and to enjoy in your favorite recipes.

Cauliflower Sausage Casserole
From:  The Chew, Michael Symon

Olive Oil
1/2 pound Chicken Sweet or Spicy Italian Sausage (removed from the casings)
1 medium head Cauliflower (about 2 pounds; cut in to small florets)
1 medium Onion (small diced)
4 Garlic cloves (minced)
28- ounce can whole San Marzano Tomatoes (crushed and broken up with your hands)
1 cup Flat Leaf Parsley (chopped)
2/3 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper (to taste)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with the sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage as you go, until browned, about 10 minutes. 
Add cauliflower to the pot and brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To the pan, add the onion and garlic and a pinch of salt and cook until the onions become soft and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Add the broken up tomatoes with their liquid, along with the sausage. Bring the mixture up to a simmer and give it a taste, adding additional salt and pepper is necessary. Mix in the parsley in then pour the whole mixture in to a 13x9 baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the sausage  and cauliflower and bake until golden brown on top and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve. Garnish with parsley.

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