Recipe Redux October Cooking Challenge: Orange Cauliflower Tex-Mex Casserole

Every month (well, almost every month), we participate in the Recipe Redux dietitian blogger cooking challenge. This month’s assignment: A recipe featuring orange food. We have two fabulous nutrition students from Boston University who are interning with us for the semester, so we asked them to create an orange recipe and write a guest post.

Sophie and Annette were like kids in a  candy store when we dropped them off for a scouting mission at Wilson Farm in Lexington, MA. They grabbed a bunch of orange foods including Rugosa Squash (we blogged about this heirloom variety last week) and these gorgeous heads of orange cauliflower.

Read on for the guest post and the recipe! (And while you’re at it, be sure to check out Annette’s blog, Food Science Nerd!)

Hi Everyone. We’re Sophie and Annette, and we’re seniors at Boston University. Sophie is originally from England and Annette grew up in Durham, NC. Coming out to Liz’s house in Lexington for the past few weeks has been a nice break from our fast-paced, always-studying lives in Boston. And since both of us love to cook, we’ve enjoyed our time in the temporary MMM Kitchen (The Moms usually cook at Janice’s house but her kitchen is getting a makeover)! We had a blast cooking this casserole for the Recipe Redux, and we can’t’ wait to read all of the other posts.

Some of our favorite finds at the farm (from top left) were the Cinderella pumpkins (shout-out to Annette’s Disney obsession), the golden beets, sugar pumpkins, and small “fancy” gourds, but we decided the best option for this challenge was the orange cauliflower.

Sophie had a flashback to a childhood favorite called Cauliflower Cheese. Her mum (that’s what they call “moms” in the UK) made this recipe all the time using a lot of butter and Cheddar cheese, so we decided to use it as the starting point for our recipe redux.

The original Cauliflower Cheese recipe was handed down to Sophie’s mum from her grandma. Now, we’re turing it into a lighter but equally flavorful Meal-Makeover-Mom-approved version. To do that, we replaced the butter with olive oil to increase the amount of heart-healthy fats and replaced the whole-fat cheese with reduced fat.  We also reduced the amounts of both ingredients to lower the overall calories and fat.  We spiced up the recipe with green onion, cumin, and chili powder and added extra crunch with a sprinkle of Panko bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.

This is what it looks like, all bubbly and crunchy straight out of the oven!

Orange Cauliflower Tex-Mex Casserole

Makes 6 to 8 Servings (7 cup yield)

Who could turn down cauliflower with a recipe like this one? It’s so comforting! By the way, if you can’t find orange cauliflower, use the regular white. It’s still packed with great nutrition.

  • 1 large head of orange cauliflower cut into 1-inch, bite-size florets (about 9 cups)
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 green onions thinly sliced, white and light green parts
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 ounces shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (1 cup)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour 1/2-inch of water into the bottom of a medium-size saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Place the cauliflower in a steamer basket and lower into the pot. Reduce the heat to a low boil, replace the lid, and steam the cauliflower until crisp tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a 7 x 11-inch baking dish and set aside.

2. Carefully empty the water from the saucepan and wipe away excess moisture with a paper towel. Place the oil in the saucepan, and heat over medium heat. Add the green onions and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and whisk constantly until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Whisk the milk, cumin, and chili powder slowly into the flour mixture. Raise the heat and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer and stir gently until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in the Cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce evenly over the cauliflower. Stir together the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top. Place in the oven and bake until the cheese bubbles, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Reposition rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler. Place casserole back in oven and broil until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 1 cup):  170 calories, 8g fat (3g saturated), 230mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 11g protein, 190% vitamin A, 110% vitamin C, 25% calcium

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Don’t be fooled by how indulgent this dish tastes! One cup of raw cauliflower has only 25 calories, and orange cauliflower has the added benefit of higher amounts of carotenoids, the antioxidants that give this veggie its orange color.  One 1-cup serving of this casserole provides 25 percent calcium, thanks to the low-fat milk and Cheddar cheese, a dash of phytochemicals from the cumin, and a whole serving of veggies.

16 responses to “Recipe Redux October Cooking Challenge: Orange Cauliflower Tex-Mex Casserole”

  1. I’ve been looking forward to seeing your RR recipe since Liz (or maybe Janice?) posted the photo from your ingredient hunt. Your casserole sounds great & I can’t wait to try orange cauliflower

  2. ahh. i love cheese, and this looks like a delicious side! way to go girls!

  3. Great job Sophie & Annette! Love hearing your stories and the inspiration for this recipe – I’ve never seen the orange cauliflower – gorgeous! A very clever recipe – glad you could be part of ReDux this month.

  4. Looks and sounds tasty! We love Tex-Mex!

  5. I’m intrigued by the cauliflower cheese! This looks great; makes a perfect side dish for the holidays, too.

  6. Heidi says:

    Cauliflower, cheese, and pinko—- sounds delicious!

  7. Marie says:

    Wow, never even know orange cauliflower existed, great info, nice recipe!

  8. all the ingredients in this recipe is so delicious. Also, i have never heard about orange cauliflower. its a great side dish!!

  9. I am definitely going to make this for dinner one night this week. I make a similar dish of cauliflower Gratin and I cant get enough of it. Nice photos!

  10. Katy @ Healthy Aperture says:

    I look to pasta way too often for my casserole base. Aside from never seeing orange cauliflower, I never thought about it in a dish like this. I LOVE the creativity!


  11. I loooooooooooove cauliflower cheese but it is not something I have ever made before because of all the calories. It has always been a special treat dish for me. Glad you have come up with a lighter version that I can try!

  12. Eleonore says:

    mmm…Looks delicious! I love cauliflower with cheese. Thanks for recipe

  13. Kate says:

    Been good looking through your recipes, I have not made cauliflower cheese for a long time, but I think I need to have another go but with Gluten Free flour.

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