Cauliflower Rice Au Gratin

Wow, looks who’s still alive (barely if you consider the near death experience I had while visiting Houston in early October..but we best not dwell on that.). Yep it’s me, still here, still kicking and still cooking. If not as much as I was. I really need to do something about that.

I have so many wonderful things to share and make. (did I just put those in the wrong order? Oh well, to lazy to hit the backspace..sad I know but it’s Sunday whatever.) Some dishes I made first before deciding if I was going to post about them because I’m finding the more I post recipes the first time I’ve made them, especially those I may have found on Pinterest or another site, I find other ways I would have preferred to adapt them or spruce them up.

Butter Dish meals that haven’t quite made the cut.

Confession time: Coming up with main courses and desserts are easy. They pop in and out of my head like soap bubbles and there are plenty to decide upon. It’s those pesky side dishes that are ever elusive. I know I know, there are bazillions of recipes out there, but the boys are picky and they don’t like or dislike the same things. It’s a challenge to say the least.

I haven’t posted many side dishes so I thought I’d get crazy and go out on a limb here, (brave huh?) “Look Ma, no chicken!”

Drawing upon the list of vegetables both of the men in my house like, I picked up a head of cauliflower at the store on a whim with the only thought of, “I’ll figure out something to do with it later.”

No there’s nothing wrong with your screen coloring and this isn’t the latest Andy Warhol. This is real cauliflower.

I’m sure you are well acquainted with the white variety (which is actually not a variety at all but just a color distinction). But did you know it also comes in orange, green and even purple? Once I knew it came in purple I so want to grow some. Yes there are actual differences between them other than their pretty hues.

Green is often referred to as “broccoflower although there’s no relation or cross-breeding (can I say that) between the two.

Purple derives it’s color from the same antioxidants that give red cabbage & red wine their brilliant blushes.

Orange is the pick of the crop and the one I’d go for (as you should as well) if it were readily available. Orange has nearly 25 times the vitamin A as it’s white sibling and developed naturally from a mutant in Canada soil. Thanks Kanucks!!

Alas Mr. Grocer only sells the white thus I was forced to stick with the commoner of cauliflower.

Personally I’m a big fan of cauliflower & it happens to be a veggie the boys agree on as well.

This recipe came about because I was pressed for time and Mr. Sweet Butter, like all weight lifting strength training warrior man types,  likes to have a starch with his dinner for a balanced meal. I remember pinning a recipe for broccoli, cheese and rice and I distinctly recall feeling a little bubble pop somewhere in my cerebellum.

The trick to saving time with this is whenever you make a batch of rice for a dish prior to this one, make a double batch and store half for later. This is the later recipe and not waiting for the rice to cook will save you 30 minutes easy. Rice stores well for about a week so you can always make a batch ahead of time for meals during the week.

It’s a very simple recipe to be frankly honest with you. Of course you’ll need a beautiful head of cauliflower which should be steamed or microwaved for 3-5 minutes.

Here’s an important piece of nutritional wisdom to file away and pass on. Never boil cauliflower. Microwave, bake, fry, broil, steam just don’t boil. Boiling sucks out the cancer fighting compounds that are so prevalent in this unassuming vegetable at a rate that wil make you dizzy. Nearly half of those mighty microscopic warriors are zapped in ten minutes of boiling.

From there it’s cake…well not really…Dice up an onion, cook up some bacon, fry them both in a pan; add flour, chicken broth, cream & stir until thick. Melt in some cheese, pour the whole great beautiful mess over the rice in a casserole dish, bake and serve.

This side dish was such a hit with my own warriors it can hold it’s pretty cauliflower head high and proudly say it’s among the elite recipes in my repertoire that  will be made again, and again. Like a Marine, “the few, the proud, the repeat!”

What makes dishes like this so sublime is the ease of which one can change and adapt to any number of variations. Can’t you just see adding spinach or mushrooms (even though I dont like them, you may), combining both broccoli and cauliflower (ooh how colorful).

Listen.. can you here it? There again. It’s the sound of side dish bubbles expanding in numbers. I do believe there is hope for my side dish menus yet.

Go, create & enjoy. It’s good to be back. I’ve missed you. You don’t even want to know how many bloggers posts I have to go through in my inbox. I’ll stop by and see what you’ve been up to soon. Promise.

Love Tara

Cauliflower Rice Au Gratin
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
bacon, onion, cheese & cauliflower poured and baked over a dish of rice. Topped with parmesan and pretzels; divine!! There won't be left overs with this one.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4-6
  • 3 cups rice, cooked to package directions (can be made in advance)
  • 1 Medium head cauliflower, cut into bite size florets.
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and diced
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 onion,diced
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • ½ cup crushed pretzels (or bread crumbs)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread the rice over the bottom of a large casserole dish and set aside.
  3. Steam the cauliflower for 5 minutes or alternately combine with ¼ cup of water, cover and microwave for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Drain cauliflower and set aside.
  5. Combine parmesan & crushed pretzels in a small bowl and set aside.
  6. Meanwhile melt the butter in a large skillet on medium high.
  7. Add onions and bacon until onions are tender and brown.
  8. Stir in flour to create a roux then slowly add the broth and cream, whisking until completely incorporated.
  9. Simmer on medium heat until thickened.
  10. Add mustard, spices and worcestershire and gently add Gruyere & Swiss until melted.
  11. Remove from heat and fold in cauliflower until combined.
  12. Pour mixture over the rice.
  13. Top with parm & pretzel mix.
  14. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes to warm through and enjoy.



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  • Savannah@HammockTracks

    Tara, I can so relate to this side dish dilemma. Desserts and main dishes must be where our heart is! This recipe looks delicious and I cannot wait to try it. Fortunately, most of my family loves all vegetables. That makes it a bit easier to cook around here.

    • Tara

      You are so lucky to have veggie eaters in the house Savannah. My boys like veggies but what Mr. SB likes, WizKid doesn’t and vice versa. This was super yummy. Let me know how you like it lady!