Note: The U.S. is currently undergoing a cauliflower shortage due to poor crop yields in AZ & CA, so depending on where you live, cauliflower prices could be rather high at this time.
And for all of you pasta lovers out there, you truly won't miss the starch in this dish because it's so hearty! (Seriously, my husband is not a huge cauliflower fan, but absolutely LOVED this dish, and requested I make it again soon!)
You also may think that making your own pesto is way too time consuming. I threw mine together in 5min. or less in the food processor! But, you can also just purchase some at the store as well. This is an excellent week night meal when you're tight on time. I took a few shortcuts as well, by purchasing some canned tomatoes, (fresh would be great if you have them on hand), and by buying a "steamable" bag of "Cauliflower Crumbles". You may want to adjust the pesto ingredients based on what you may have on hand. I must warn you that I literally threw mine together without measuring anything in the processor, so I guessed on the amounts below! If your pesto is too thick, simply add a bit more oil, if it's too thin, add some more spinach, cheese, or almonds.
You'll find that when you take a bite of this incredible dish, the cauliflower is rather masked by the fresh and flavorful spinach pesto, and "kick" of the spicy sausage. But, it's balanced out by the juicy bite of tangy tomato, and the melted ooey gooey blend of creamy Italian cheeses.....(asiago, parmesan, mozzarella, and some white cheddar.) So good, so healthy, and so filling!
Yield: 6+ servings
Prep time: 10-15min.
1# of cauliflower "riced" ***1 bag-Green Giant Cauliflower "Crumbles"
1# Hot Italian Ground Sausage (Or you could use the Mild or Sweet varieties)
1- 14.5 oz. can of Diced tomatoes (plain)
1 cup of store bought pesto or:
2-3 oz. of fresh spinach leaves (enough to almost fill up your processor!)
1 "handful" of fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves of garlic
juice of half a lemon
1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup almonds (toasted preferred, but not necessary)
1/4-1/2 cup of Grapeseed oil or Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Grapeseed or Olive Oil
Panko breadcrumbs or ground almonds
1 cup+ of any variety of Italian cheese
fresh chopped herbs
Preheat oven to 375 F.
1) Grease the inside of a casserole dish by using baking spray, or brushing on a thin layer of oil.
Begin by cooking the ground sausage, and making sure to break up into smaller pieces as it cooks. (Some people add some oil to the pan when cooking sausage, but I find there to be enough grease content in the sausage already!) As the sausage is cooking, steam the cauliflower according to directions on bag.
**Note: if you are "ricing" your cauliflower yourself, you can do this in a food processor. Then, simply steam your cauliflower.
When the sausage is fully cooked, remove from heat.
2) In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the steamed cauliflower, cooked sausage, and can of diced tomatoes, (sauce too!) Add in the pre-made pesto, and mix well.
If making the Spinach pesto: simply take all of the ingredients listed, (except for the oil), and place in a food processor. Process the mixture until it is finely ground, streaming in the oil at the end, until you have the desired consistency. Add the pesto to the bowl, and mix all of the ingredients together.
Additional items you could add: olives, peppers, mushrooms, Prosciutto, etc.
3) Evenly spread the mixture into your prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle Panko breadcrumbs over the top, (or ground almonds), and place in a 375 F. oven for approx. 20-30min. (Breadcrumbs should be golden, and edges bubbly.)
Remove from the oven, generously cover with shredded cheese, (you can also add chopped herbs as well), and place back in the oven for about 5-10min. (Just to melt the cheese evenly.)
Remove from the oven, and allow to set for about 10min. Serve hot!
***Also, makes for excellent leftovers!