Cheesy Baked Cauliflower Chowder

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This recipe was born one day when I was craving both macaroni and cheese and chowder, and couldn’t decide which to make.  While its flavor is reminiscent of the surreal epiphany that is found in a humble mac and cheese or simple chowder, it is ever-so-slightly more sophisticated with the addition of a rosemary/Panko topping.  What I love most about this side dish is that it can be dressed up or down.  Serve it with burgers and a green salad for a casual weeknight meal, or fancy it up with filet mignon and sautéed mushrooms…either way it will be love at first bite.

Note that if you make this dish one day ahead the flavors will blend nicely but it will thicken up to a consistency similar to that of mac and cheese, instead of the chowder-like consistency shown in the pictures.

Cheesy Baked Cauliflower Chowder

(Yield:  serves 4-6 as a side dish)

1/2 of a medium head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces (4 c chopped)

1 TB olive oil

1 very small (about 2 1/2 oz) onion, finely diced

1 large clove garlic, minced

4 TB Panko bread crumbs

1 spring fresh rosemary, stem discarded and leaves minced

1 TB unsalted butter

1 TB all-purpose flour

2 c whole milk

4 oz sharp cheddar, shredded

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. 

Blanch cauliflower in boiling, salted water until fork tender (3-4 minutes); drain immediately.

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over low heat; add onion and garlic and sauté until tender and just starting to brown (about 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add bread crumbs and sauté until light golden brown (about 1-2 minutes), stirring frequently.  Stir in rosemary and a pinch of salt and pepper and turn off heat.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter; whisk in flour and cook 1 minute.  Whisk in milk, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper, and bring up to a boil (stirring occasionally), then turn heat down slightly and boil gently for 2 minutes (stirring constantly).  Turn off heat and whisk in cheese.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired.

Combine blanched cauliflower and cheese sauce and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish.  Sprinkle bread crumb mixture on top and bake until bubbling (about 25 minutes). 

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  1. says

    Faith…This is certainly a great way to enjoy a sometimes otherwise forgotten vegetable. Nice combo of ingredients.

    I also appreciate when cauliflower is roasted ahead of time…it certainly enhances the overall pleasure ;o)

    Flavourful wishes,

  2. says

    You had me at cheesy, my friend. I need to bookmark this and make it soon. This looks delicious! I’ve been meaning to cook with cauliflower more, but haven’t found a recipe I’ve liked yet, other than my usual stir fries. I think I’ve found a winner here. Thanks for sharing. Hope you guys are enjoying your vacation.

  3. says

    I love cauliflower and this sounds wonderful! I have a head of cauliflower in my frig and this looks like the perfect way to use it!

  4. says

    Cauliflower…chowder…mac and cheese…all those foods evoke such good memories for me. This seems like a bowl of heaven ! Thanks for sharing your creativity in the kitchen! Your words, recipes and photos always bring a big smile to my face. Have a great Monday!

  5. says

    I love cauliflower. What a great way to prepare it. It sounds amazing. I might even be able to sneak some veggies into my family with this one:)

  6. says! I have breadcrumbs and I know what exactly I am going to do with it :) Lovely recipe, Faith, will try with some other veggie and let you know. Take care.

  7. says

    HI Faith, I have been out of the country for over two weeks–just now getting caught up all the cooking exploits of my food blogging friends. Your cauliflower chowder looks incredible–I love the upscale push with the panko and rosemary. This dish satisfies in the same comforting way as mac-cheese, but it is Way more healthy.

  8. Lazaro says


    My kind of dish. I am a big fan of the cauliflower. Just a great course I’d be happy to sink my teeth into anytime.

  9. says

    Hi Faith, I like what you said about dressing this baked cauliflower chowder up or down. It’s interesting that by serving a dish that’s on the richer side in a small amount with an extra touch as a starter or by pairing it with a green salad can change the personality of the dish. I am a lover of cauliflower so this chowder speaks to me and I would love it served either way;-)

  10. says

    I really, really love a good cheesy cauliflower chowder. Cauliflower’s are starting to show their little cool weather heads again at the markets…, something to look forward to through the winter.

  11. says

    Not sure when we started doing this, but we mostly saute brocc and cauli with a little panko, to help it brown up. Will have to go whole hog and try the cheeziness. Cheers!

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