As some are observing dietary restrictions involving wheat and other grains that have leavening characteristics, the following side dish or main course is a great alternative – assuming no meat is being served at the same meal. Cauliflower cheese pie with potato crust is rich, satisfying and fairly easy to make. Some of the ingredients could be modified: instead of cauliflower, try asparagus, green beans, carrots or broccoli. New spring peas would be also work. This meal is a great way to get the reluctant to eat vegetables.
Cauliflower Cheese Pie With Potato Crust
2 cups grated raw potatoes (2-3 potatoes, waxy potatoes better)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated onion
Grated strong cheddar cheese, about 1 cup, more or less
Grated mozzarella cheese, about 1 cup, more or less
1 medium cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup chopped onion (about one onion)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
1 T dry thyme or fresh chopped (may sub herb of choice)
1 T basil (fresh is better, chiffonade; dry is ok)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup milk (can substitute ½ & ½ or cream)
- Grate or thinly slice potato in a colander over a bowl. Salt it and leave for 10 minutes. Then, squeeze out the excess water. Beat in the egg, salt and grated onion.
- Pat into a well-oiled 9 inch pie tin, building up the sides of the crust with lightly floured fingers. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes until browned. After the first 30 minutes, brush (or spray) with oil to crisp it.
- Remove and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
- Sauté the onions and garlic in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the herbs and cauliflower and cook 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and the pepper. If you like cauliflower with a tad of bite, add to onion mix and turn off the heat to just warm the vegetable, but not cook it to softened texture.
- Beat together the egg and milk.
- Spread half the cheese (combo mozzarella and cheddar) into the baked crust. Top with the cauliflower mix then rest of the cheese. Pour over egg mix. Dust with paprika.
- Put pie on baking sheet for ease of transfer to oven. Bake about 30 minutes until filling is set. It will slightly puff in the middle. Let cool slightly. Also delicious at room temperature or cold on a buffet.
- A mixed green salad with a bracing mustard vinaigrette is a wonderful accompaniment.
Susan Delbert joined The Fourth Estate Restaurant at the National Press Club as Executive Chef after working at The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C. as Sous Chef for several years. Delbert has worked in several Washington restaurants, including The Oval Room, BeDuCi in Dupont Circle and Gerard’s Place. She started her culinary career as a Front of the House Maitre d’ in Clyde’s of Chevy Chase. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where she graduated at the top of her class. She was an invited participant in an Italian regional cooking program sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission.