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cauliflower cheese pie with grated potato crust

February 15, 2011

What’s that? You want a way to make vegetables unhealthy without involving a deep-fryer and/or the local fire department? How about this—VEGGIE PIE.

This one had been in my folder for a looong time. I saved it as soon as I saw it because, well, it involved cheese and potatoes, but it was hard for me to come up with an excuse to make it. I couldn’t really envision serving it as a main course (I mean, hello, meat?), and it was too fat-ridden to make for my dad, who’s all about the low-fat.

My mom inadvertently saved me on this one, though, when she emailed me a link to the recipe a week or so ago, not only suggesting that we make it (she didn’t know I’d had my eye on it for a while) but giving me a date when my dad would be out of town so we could wallow in the cheese. She also said she’d make some kasha (which is sorta kinda like quinoa?) to go with it, thus solving the main-dish-or-side dilemma.

It was kind of a pain in the neck to spend all that time grating potatoes and onions (not to mention a little dangerous because I was a little, uh, speedy in my anxiousness to try the freakin’ thing), but I’d say in the end, it was worth it. The crust was nice and crispy—almost latke-like—and the cheese and egg together were really comforting and filling. And oh right, the cauliflower, which made me feel almost healthy. Almost.

Cauliflower Cheese Pie with Grated Potato Crust
2 cups packed peeled, shredded, raw potatoes, preferably russet (2-3 potatoes) [you can also use a food processor for this and the onion if you don’t follow my route and decide you’re too lazy to dig out the big processor]
1/4 cup grated onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, diced small
1 garlic clove, minced
1 dash thyme
1 medium head cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 cup packed grated strong cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk

1. Adjust a rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick spray.
2. Combine the shredded potatoes, onion, salt, and egg. Pat the potato mixture into an even layer over the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, then give the crust a spritz with nonstick spray. Continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes, until browned. [You might want to keep an eye on it and drape some foil around the edges of the crust if it looks like it’s browning too quickly.] Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion and cook just until they start to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the thyme, cauliflower, and salt; cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is just tender, about 8 minutes. [My pan was pretty dry by the time I got the cauliflower in. If that’s the case for you, to prevent burnage, you can put a little bit of water in there with the cauliflower—and I would check the pan every few minutes to see if it needs more water.]
4. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, a pinch of salt and another of black pepper, and the milk until evenly-colored.
5. Spread half of the cheese in the baked crust. Top with the cauliflower mixture and the rest of the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the pie. Dust with paprika.
6. Bake the pie until the custard is set and the top is slightly browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles

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