We're continuing the Month of Daily Phase One recipes, and at my house it was starting to feel like time for a Phase One recipe that fit in the category of comfort food. There was ham and cauliflower in the fridge, and I was definitely thinking about Twice Baked Cauliflower when I got the idea for this casserole with ham and cauliflower in a creamy sauce with cheese. The good news is that while Twice Baked Cauliflower is definitely a once-in-a-while treat, this recipe uses fat-free Greek yogurt for most of the creaminess, with just a tiny bit of light cream cheese and a few tablespoons of Parmesan. It also has lean ham instead of the bacon and a very moderate amount of low-fat cheese, making this a recipe you can enjoy more often. It may not be the most photogenic comfort food dish in the world, but it was clean-your-plate delicious and is definitely something that will become a Phase One stand-by at my house.
Cut up two cups of lean ham. (If you're making this for South Beach, the guideline is less than 10% fat, and you can often tell by looking at ham if it meets that guideline.)
Cut off 4 oz. of low-fat cream cheese and soften it in the microwave for a few minutes. (Or let soften on top of the pre-heating oven if you don't have a microwave.)
Then put the cauliflower back into the pan you cooked it in and mash with a potato masher until it's mashed up but still has quite a few chunks.
Mix in the sauce mixture so it's completely mixed with the cauliflower, then gently mix in the ham. Season to taste with fresh-ground black pepper. (I didn't use any salt because the ham and Parmesan are both salty.)
Spray the baking dish with nonstick spray or olive oil, put the casserole mixture in, and sprinkle with cheese. (I purposely used a dish with high sides so I could get by with a relatively small amount of cheese. This round dish was 8 inches across.)
Bake 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and starting to brown and the mixture is hot throughout and starting to slightly bubble. Let sit about 10 minutes for any liquid in the dish to be absorbed, then serve hot.
(Makes about 6 servings; recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from Twice Baked Cauliflower.)
at least 6 cups cauliflower flowerets, cut fairly small (1 large head cauliflower or 1 1/2 small heads)
1/2 tsp. salt (for water to cook cauliflower)
2 cups diced lean ham (use ham with less than 10% fat for South Beach Diet)
4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt (I used my favorite fat-free Greek yogurt)
2 T finely-grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
fresh ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup grated low-fat cheese (I used Four Cheese Mexican Blend)
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Fill a medium-sized pot half full with water, add 1/2 tsp. salt, and start to bring to a boil. Cut up the cauliflower into small flowerets, discarding the leaves and core. Put cauliflower pieces into the water and cook at a low boil until the cauliflower is starting to get soft, about 20 minutes. (It doesn't need to be completely cooked, but it should be soft enough to mash.)
While cauliflower is cooking, cut the ham into very small cubes, trimming any visible fat, and slice green onions. Put cream cheese into a glass dish or measuring cup and soften it in the microwave for a few minutes. (Or you can soften it on top of the pre-heating oven if you don't have a microwave.) When cream cheese is soft stir in the Greek yogurt, Parmesan, and sliced green onions.
When cauliflower is cooked enough to start to soften, pour into a colander placed in the sink and let it drain well (at least 5 minutes.) Put the drained cauliflower back into the pot you cooked it in and mash with a potato masher until it's partly mashed but still has quite a few chunks left. Stir in the sauce mixture and combine well with the cauliflower; then gently mix in the diced ham. Season to taste with fresh-ground black pepper. (I didn't use salt because the ham and the Parmesan are both salty.)
Spray glass or crockery casserole dish with non-stick spray or olive oil. (I used a round dish that was 8 inches across, with fairly high sides.) Pour cauliflower mixture into the dish, spread out evenly, and sprinkle with the low-fat cheese.
Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned and all the mixture is hot throughout and starting to bubble. Let sit 10 minutes for any liquid to be absorbed, then serve hot.
I am assuming that this freezes well, but I haven't tried freezing it because I didn't have any leftovers.
South Beach/Low-Carb Suggestions:
This recipe is made with low-glycemic ingredients, but if you're making it for the South Beach Diet it's important to use lean ham, reduced-fat cream cheese, fat-free Greek yogurt, and low-fat cheese. Those cautions would make this recipe approved for any phase of the South Beach Diet. For other types of low-carb eating plans this can be made with whichever type of dairy products you prefer.
More Tasty Phase One Ideas with Cauliflower:
Roasted Cauliflower with Red Bell Pepper, Green Olives, and Pine Nuts - Christmas Cauliflower
Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan
"Cauliflower Rice" with Fried Onions and Sumac
Mashed Cauliflower with Cheese and Dill
Pureed Cauliflower with Garlic, Parmesan, and Goat Cheese