All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015
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Photo – The Iron You
So THIS recipe for the CREAMY CAPRESE CAULIFLOWER CASSEROLE (seen above) showed up in my email box & I could not resist. Apparently, they were inspired by another of my favorite food blogs – How Sweet It Is – but I was unable to find her recipe.
I would have been happy to make this with cauliflower only but once I roasted my medium head of cauliflower florets – they shrunk to a portion too small – so I added leftover pasta from my Vegan Pasta with Sausage, Arugula & Tomatoes – seen below.
I will confess to using half real cheese & half vegan cheese in this. I used the leftover mozzarella from my Heirloom Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella & Avocado Caprese Salad with Olive Oil Caviar – seen above – as the topping cheese (and a few shreds of real Parmesan) – but I used a lot of this cheese below – that I gave a bad review to yesterday. I did not want to waste the tastier vegan cheeses I have & I felt this stuff seemed most likely to melt into a binding element in this casserole – and I think I was correct.
This is not a complicated recipe & is likely to be a crowd pleaser – whether you make it vegan or not.
Caramelized Cauliflower & Creamy Pasta Caprese Casserole (Vegan or Not)
1 large head of cauliflower – cut into florets
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
4 TBS tomato paste
1 cup almond (or soy) milk
1 cup grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative)
2 cups shredded or fresh mozzarella (or vegan alternative)
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes – halved
2 large handfuls basil – shredded or chopped
1-3 tsp crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves
3 cups cooked pasta (about 1/2 lb dry)
Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Toss the cauliflower with olive oil & some S&P. Bake for 30 minutes – tossing once at the 15 minute mark. Set aside. Lower oven temperature to 350.
Meanwhile – heat a TBS olive oil in a stock pan on low heat. Add the crushed red pepper & the garlic & cook one minute. Add the tomato sauce (being careful not to get splattered) & the tomato paste. Heat through. Add the milk, 1/2 the mozzarella, all of the Parmesan, 1/2 the halved tomatoes and a good handful of shredded basil & combine. Season with S&P.
Add the cauliflower & pasta & toss well.
Put into a greased casserole pan & top with the remaining mozzarella & tomatoes. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven to 500 degrees & cook another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese begins to turn golden.
Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes & then garnish with shredded basil.