Cauliflower-Cheese Pie with Grated Potato Crust

Em here. Really, my mom should be posting this blog, but she is awfully busy and doesn’t have much time. I, on the other hand, have a glorious, stuffy nose, sore throat, lazy day in front of me. I have been trying to ignore this sickness for several days, but it has lingered and gotten a bit worse, so I decided that a lounge day was much needed.

I walked into the kitchen a few evenings ago, and my mom was already busy at work pulling ingredients out of the cupboards with the fabulous Moosewood Cookbook laying open on the butcherblock. She had two gorgeous heads of cauliflower sitting on the counter, one bright yellow and the other a deep purple color, from Underwood Farms. “I need my camera!” I shrieked, racing into my room and back into the kitchen. I began snapping away as she worked.

Fresh picked thyme from our garden.

The herbs and vegetables make the dish look right out of the garden, and the cheese makes it tasty. Molly Katzen’s Cauliflower Cheese Pie begins with a shredded potato crust, a layer of cheddar cheese, then the cauliflower and other herbs and flavorings, and finally a souffle-like topping made with eggs and more cheese. It is a rich dish that is perfect alongside a simple green salad or soup.

Now, you may be asking yourself why the cover photo for this posting is a half-eaten cauliflower cheese pie. Well, it’s definitely not due to my talented artistic touch to photography.

We have a little munchkin in this household that has a rather bad habit of jumping up on counters…and eating the things she finds on those counters. The morning after my mom baked her cauliflower masterpiece, she came out of the shower to an unusually quiet house. Tiptoeing into the kitchen with her sense of dread rising, she saw our placid, happy puppy licking the pie, which had somehow gotten onto the floor without shattering the pie plate. She’s talented. Thankfully, she only had time to reach about a quarter of the pie, and the rest was salvaged. My sister was happy, because she got out of eating the pie for dinner. My mom and I had the remainder of it at lunch with a raw kale salad dressed in olive oil add tossed with pine nuts on the side.

Cauliflower-Cheese Pie, with Grated Potato Crust

Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook

Ingredients:

Crust-

  • 2 cups (packed) grated raw potato
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten (save the yolk)
  • flour for your fingers
  • a dash of oil

Filling-

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (For the garlic and salt, we use Garlic Gold’s Sea Salt nuggets, from Paradise Pantry in downtown Ventura)
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. thyme
  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • 2 eggs plus the egg yolk from the crust
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup (packed) grated cheddar

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a 9-inch pie pan.

2) Grate potato either in a good processor with grating attachment or just with a good old hand-held grater.

3) Combine grated potato with onion, salt, and egg white in a small bowl and mix well. Transfer to the pie pan and pat into place with lightly floured fingers, building up the sides into a handsome edge.

4) Bake the crust for 30 minutes, then brush the crust with a little oil and bake it for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven, and turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F.

5) While you wait, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, and salt.

6) Add thyme and/or any other herbs (basil or rosemary if you wish) to the pan.

7) Add cauliflower to pan, stir, and cover. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally (about 8 to 10 minutes).

8) Spread half the cheese into the baked crust (ok if it’s still hot).

9) Spoon the sautéed vegetables on top, and sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Beat the eggs and milk together, and pour on top.

10) Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until set. Serve hot, warm, or cold.

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