For most of us, raw cauliflower isn’t the thing that gets our hearts racing. But never mind crudites — it’s that time of year when we need ready-to-bake lasagnas on hand in the fridge, or simple, satisfying pasta recipes to whip up on a busy weeknight. As it turns out, there are plenty of clever ways to incorporate the tender, winter-white florets into the season’s most-time-honored comfort foods. You can even replace traditional mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower, or try tossing the roasted florets in hot sauce for a lighter alternative to Buffalo chicken wings. Whether you’re preparing a hearty sit-down meal or a casual snack to enjoy at the next big tailgate, here are six ways to revamp classic comfort foods by giving them a healthy cauliflower twist.
Roasted Cauliflower Lasagna (pictured at top)
When we’re talking comfort food, lasagna is one of the first dishes to come to mind. Beef, although classic, doesn’t need to be a part of the equation — especially if you’re looking to cut fat from your diet. In Food Network Kitchen’s healthy take, cauliflower is the star. The tender florets are not only blended into the ricotta cheese filling for texture, but also roasted and used in place of the traditional meatballs or sausage.
Kale and Cauliflower Casserole
One of cauliflower’s many virtues is that it plays well with other vegetables. Here, it’s paired with slow-cooked kale. Mash together red potatoes, Parmesan and sour cream for a creamy top layer instead of using breadcrumbs, pie crust or biscuits. Once it’s baked, you can serve this hearty casserole as a vegetarian main or a nutrient-rich side.
Art Smith’s Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
It’s not necessarily the spuds but the smooth texture and cheesy flavor that make mashed potatoes so addictive. Even the biggest potato fans will get on board with this creamy cauliflower side — especially when they learn that it has just 83 calories per serving. For smoothness, puree the cauliflower with a little bit of nonfat Greek yogurt and olive oil in place of heavy cream. Add in some Parmesan cheese, rosemary and garlic for classic mashed potato flavor.
Buffalo Cauliflower with Blue Cheese Sauce
This classic bar snack takes on a new form in Food Network Kitchen’s vegetarian rendition. Their spicy oven-roasted cauliflower is just as satisfying as wings but with a fraction of the calories and fat. For a really authentic touch, serve the florets with a spicy Buffalo coating and cool, creamy blue cheese sauce.
Baked Cauliflower Tots
Kids love them, adults long for them — and now everyone can enjoy them with higher nutritional value. Food Network Kitchen recreates classic Tater Tots’ signature golden crunch by using rice cereal as a gluten-free breading. A hot oven (and a little cooking spray) gets you a crackling exterior without deep-frying.
There’s nothing like coming home to a big bowl of pasta on a chilly fall evening. If your go-to dish is chock-full of meat or poultry, try switching things up with this vegetarian linguine. Combine garlicky cauliflower florets with crunchy fried onions and crisp panko breadcrumbs for an indulgent — yet lighter — weeknight main.
For more creative cauliflower uses, check out these recipes from our friends:
Feed Me Phoebe: Paleo Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes with Pumpkin Seed Scallion Pesto
The Heritage Cook: Easy Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Sriracha Butter (Gluten-Free)
Dishin & Dishes: Cauliflower Steaks with Curried Coconut Puree
Homemade Delish: Cauliflower Au Gratin
Creative Culinary: Roasted Cauliflower with a Parmesan and Cheddar Cheese Frosting
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Six Recipes To Make You Fall In Love With Cauliflower
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Cauliflower Patties
Taste with the Eyes: Grilled Eggplant Pizza with Low-Carb Cauliflower Crust
FN Dish: 6 Ways Cauliflower Can Stand In for Other Favorite Foods