Leek, Mushroom, and Cauliflower Casserole

Oh happy day!!  It’s all double rainbows and prancing unicorns over at Marmalade HQ today!!  Cheese Sauce Lovers unite!!  I perfected Cheese Sauce that doesn’t require a carb to thicken it.  And then I used it to make you Leek, Mushroom, and Cauliflower Casserole.

It only took me in excess of 21 pints worth of fiddling and eating to get to this point; but let me tell you, you’re worth every last spoonful.

Before you go getting all twitterpated, and sprint off to the kitchen – a word of caution: I’ve thrown another funky new ingredient into the mix.  AKA you’ll need to go shopping first.  Now I don’t want you to be mad with me – so I promise, – if you like think life is simply terrible without cheese sauce, you’ll want to stay with me here.  If you’ve followed along for a while you’ll know I use guar gum and xanthan gum for most thickening purposes, depending on the application.  They work brilliantly in baked goods, smoothies, and a host of other things; cheese sauce isn’t one of them.  They are tricky to use in simple white sauces that are intended to end up silky-smooth.  They also tend to get rather “gluey”.  Several of my attempts ended up veritably slimy.  Not the result I was after.  At all.

This, however, was exactly what I had in mind when I was thinking about dinner last night.  Rich, smooth, creamy cheese sauce crammed full of fantastic vegetables.  YES.  I give you Leek, Mushroom, and Cauliflower Casserole. Leek, Mushroom, and Cauliflower Casserole  |  Carrie Brown

All it required was a perfect cheese sauce; which I’d been working on for months.  Months!  Apart from the gums (difficult to get right, slimy, gluey, odd taste), I’ve tried coconut flour (inconsistent in its ability to thicken), almond flour (just wrong), garbanzo bean flour (grainy), and who-knows-what-else.

After countless hours of cheese sauce hell, I stumbled upon Konjac Flour – also known as glucomannan.  It’s what they make shirataki noodles out of, and it’s basically soluble fiber that swells, and swells, and swells.  And then it swells a bit more.  It is tasteless, absorbs other flavors readily, and – with a little attention – will make a super-silky-smooth white sauce that is virtually indistinguishable from a traditional white sauce made with cornstarch (cornflour).  It is easier and quicker to make than a white / roux / béchamel sauce.  Plus, you only need a very small amount to do the job.  Is that enough {very} brilliant reasons to make you go out and get some?  Perfect white sauce shall be yours!  Hallelujah!  Can you tell I’m a little excited here?

Leek, Mushroom, and Cauliflower Casserole  |  Carrie Brown

This is intended to be a side dish served up with the protein of your choice, although I have a tendency to just eat the whole thing on its own and call it good.  I blame it on being single.  Or lazy?  As I have no problem consuming enough protein, I am not at all worried if I end the day with just veggies every now and then.  If you find getting enough protein eaten difficult, then I suggest you grill up a chicken breast, a lovely pork chop, or a gorgeous slice of salmon, and have this Leek, Mushroom, and Cauliflower Casserole on the side.

I find this Leek, Mushroom, and Cauliflower Casserole every bit as comforting as a big old bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese.  Somehow cheese sauce magically makes veggies seem naughty.  I love that.  All the comfort without the diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  Perfect!

PS. You can find Konjac Flour – also known as glucomannan online.  In the US you can find it at SuperSupplements; I am sure you would find it at other health and nutrition stores if you do not have a SuperSupplements locally, or live outside the US.  It may seem expensive, but you use just 1 tsp for a typical recipe, so it will last you forever.  Store in an airtight jar so it stays fresh.

GO!

Leek, Mushroom, and Cauliflower Casserole
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 – 6
Ingredients
  • 1 large cauliflower, divided into florets
  • 2 TBSP coconut oil
  • 10 oz. / 280g leeks, very finely sliced
  • 10 oz. / 280g mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Lemon pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp konjac flour / glucomannan powder
  • 2 cups milk (whatever mik you prefer – coconut, almond, hemp, cows…)
  • 6 oz strong cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 TBSP white wine vinegar (do not leave this out!)
  • 1 oz. / 28g roasted sunflower seeds
Instructions
  1. Place the cauliflower florets in a steamer and steam until just tender.
  2. Meanwhile, gently sauté the leeks and mushrooms in the coconut oil over a low heat until they are just soft.
  3. Season with salt and lemon pepper and stir.
  4. In a small bowl put the konjac flour.
  5. Using a small whisk, add 1 cup of milk to the bowl and immediately whisk quickly to disperse the flour thoroughly.
  6. Pour into the pan with the vegetables and stir thoroughly and continuously until the sauce thickens.
  7. Add the other 1 cup of milk and stir well.
  8. Stir 5 1/2 oz of the cheese into the sauce, and continue stirring until completely melted.
  9. Add the white wine vinegar and stir well.
  10. Remove sauce from the heat.
  11. Place steamed cauliflower in a single layer in a casserole dish (pretty side up :-) )
  12. Pour the veggies in cheese sauce over the florets to cover them completely.
  13. Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over the top.
  14. Sprinkle roasted sunflower seeds evenly over the top.
  15. Broil (grill) under high heat for a few minutes until brown and bubbling. Watch it – it catches easily.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Matilda - Printing this off right now. Omg Carrie this looks to die for. I can’t wait to try it out.ReplyCancel

  • Nat Karamanavis - Hi Carrie! I’ve listened to you and Jonathan forever on the podcasts during the nights I can’t sleep.Its only today that I decided to check out your website and I’m so thankful that I did, your recipes will help me put into practise what I’ve thought about for ages …going sane!! Yay!! Thank you so much I can’t wait to start cooking tomorrow love from Melbourne AustraliaReplyCancel

    • carrie - Welcome, Nat! We’re so happy to have you here!!! Love from Seattle, USA :-)ReplyCancel

  • Kara - Carrie,

    BRILLIANT!
    Like you I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve been trying to modify my family’s favorite mac ‘n cheese recipe. I’ve tried garbanzo flour (very grainy), okra (yuk), guar gum, greek yogurt (too strong a flavor) and believe it or not even gelatin.

    Glucomannan WORKS beautifully. Thick,creamy and luscious. They were completely unaware that what they were eating was healthier! They had the sauce as mac ‘n cheese. I had it as cauliflower cheese.

    KaraReplyCancel

    • carrie - Kara – isn’t it AWESOME??!!!! Can you imagine the glee at Marmalade HQ the first time I tried it? LOVE! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Joe Wojtuniak - I was wondering if I were to replace Konjac Flour with almound flour would it alter the taste or cosistency enough to ruin this recipe?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - In my opinion, Joe, yes. THe sauce will be grainy and it will not thicken as well. It will also have a weird flavor. But then I am super picky :-)ReplyCancel

  • Lorna - Hello Carrie,

    had a bash at this tonight but can’t get konjac flour here along with no cheddar so used grana cheese instead (an italian cheese similar to Parmesan, but better for cooking…oh yes and didn’t have any leaks so I used onions. Chucked some mustard seeds in the creamy sauce and it tasted pretty good…. and the best bit of all is that I’ve got left overs for tomorrow…yehhhhh

    thanks :o)ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Lorna – what did you use to thicken? Mustard seeds sound yum!! Any cheese is good :-D And we LOVE leftovers!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Lorna - Hello Carrie,

    I used some agar agar, it was the only thing I had in the house and loads of cheese. Wasn’t as thick as a normal cauliflower cheese type sauce but tasted yum. The ‘better cheese comment didn’t sound nice, what I meant was Grana is tastier for cooking than Parmesan… unfortunately I can’t get cheddar here…perhaps I should try this with some Gorgonzola…
    :o)ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Lorna – I don’t care much for Parmesan, so I totally understand your comment!! You could have lots of fun playing with different cheeses in this dish. I do hope you manage to get some glucomannan though. It’s awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Matilda - So as you would be aware from twitter post to you Carrie, I made this. Oh and how delightful it was.
    the kids where away at their dads :( but that’s one of the reasons Why I wanted to try out this recipe, because they don’t like mushrooms.
    I must also say, that I cooked a recipe I have never tried before for my inlaws (the recipe was perfect as the father in law is a vegetarian). am I crazy to try out a recipe that could possibly fail? Oh course, cause it’s a Carrie recipe. And wow it was a success *phew*. I didn’t have konjac flour so I had to use corn flour (not exactly sane, I know, but I was not cooking in my own kitchen, and I forgot to bring an alternative flour like chickpea flour).
    It still came out wonderful. I was pleasantly surprised at the crunch of the sunflower seeds, they added a great element to the dish.
    I’ll be making this again, but most likely as a side dish… I could see it greatly teamed up with a chicken dish of sorts.
    Thanks again CarrieReplyCancel

    • carrie - Matilda – you are right – this would be great as a side for chicken. I am so happy you loved it :-)ReplyCancel

  • Mallory and Carrington - We made this tonight but replaced leeks (Whole Foods didn’t have any) with broccoli. It was so wonderful! Thank you for making such an impact in both of our lives. We love SOS and eating smarter, exercising smarter, living better! We are so ready for that(insert adorable English accent)!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - THANK YOU, Mallory and Carrington! I so appreciate all the recipe love :-)ReplyCancel

  • Cheese Sauce » Carrie Brown | Living a SANE Life - […] wrote about the happy day it all went down here, but I’ve had several requests to post the basic Cheese Sauce […]ReplyCancel

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