My new Italian Sausage Cauliflower Casserole is a much healthier version of a 1960′s style casserole.
In addition to cauliflower and Italian sausage, I used an organic gluten free cream of mushroom soup (I used Health Valley brand), lots of fresh sliced mushrooms, fresh grape tomatoes, black olives and grated mozzarella and parmesan-reggiano cheeses. I don’t usually cook with cheese, but I wanted this casserole to be more traditional in that sense. I only used a total of 1 and 1/4 cups of grated mozzarella and just a little bit of the reggiano.
I honestly had avoided even looking at casserole recipes until now. The amount of cheese, sour cream and cream cheese in those old style recipes (which are still all over Pinterest!) just made me cringe. On top of that, many recipes used packaged ingredients for convenience, which most of us now know is not a good thing.
Frank is the one who inspired me to research casserole recipes and come up with my own healthy version. He remembered eating casseroles when he was young, so when I asked him what he might want me to cook, that was one of his suggestions. He doesn’t have issues with gluten and he also has a quick metabolism, so I made his version with regular pasta instead of cauliflower. This recipe should make 6-8 servings, whether you make it with cauliflower or pasta.
I didn’t try to freeze these casseroles, but I would think they would freeze really well.
Cauliflower is one of my favorite ingredients to use when I want to make a recipe more healthy. It can easily stand in for pasta or potatoes in many different types of recipes.
Here are some of my previously posted cauliflower recipes:
I shared this recipe with The Hearth and Soul Hop at 21st Century Housewife, Gluten Free Wednesdays at The Gluten Free Housewife, Real Food Wednesday at Kelly The Kitchen Kop, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Foodie Friday at Simple Living and Eating
Steam a large head of cauliflower that has been cut up into bite size pieces. The cauliflower that I used was 2 and 1/2 pounds and it was perfect because it yielded 8 cups of bite sized pieces. You want the cauliflower to be just tender, but not mushy because it will break up when you stir it. Blanch and drain the cauliflower, then place it in a 9 x 13 baking dish and set it aside while you cook the sausage mixture.
If you are making this recipe with pasta instead of cauliflower, you will need 8 cups of cooked pasta. I used little elbow shaped pasta, but use whatever sounds fun to you!
Prep all of your vegies first and set them aside.
Brown 1 pound of Italian sausage, removed from it’s casing and broken up into small pieces. The sausage that I used was not really fatty, so I didn’t remove any fat from my pan after browning it.
Add: 1/2 cup white wine (I use either a Riesling or a Gewurztraminer that has a low alcohol content- mine was 10.5%)
5 tablespoons tomato paste (my previous post tells you what to do with the extra tomato paste from your can)
3 cups mushrooms, halved and sliced
1 can gluten free cream of mushroom soup. I added 1/2 of the can full of water to my mixture too.
1 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano (not Mexican oregano!)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan-reggiano cheese
Cook the mixture down a little bit then add:
2 cups (1 pint size package) grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
3/4 cup large black olives, quartered
Cook this mixture down some more, until the liquid part of the sauce looks like the right amount to moisten the cauliflower or pasta. If you are making it with pasta, it will soak up more liquid than the cauliflower does. I liked having a little extra sauce when I was eating the cauliflower version.
In the meantime, shred 1 and 1/4 cups of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle 3/4 of a cup of it over the cauliflower in the baking dish. The other 1/2 cup is to sprinkle on the very top of the casserole.
Spoon the sausage mixture over the top of the cauliflower and cheese. If you think there is too much liquid, you can cook it down a little more before you remove the last of the sauce from the pan.
It’s going to taste great no matter how much sauce there is, so don’t worry!
Use a big spoon and gently stir the cauliflower and sauce together until it is all blended. Pat the cauliflower mixture down with your spoon so it is pretty flat.
Sprinkle the last 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese over the top and then grate a little bit of reggiano cheese over the top of that.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and then bake the casserole uncovered for about 25 minutes.
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