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Orzo Bacon and Greens with Cauliflower Cheese Sauce

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This orzo bacon and greens with cauliflower cheese sauce is full of flavor and lighter on the calories. You will never look at cauliflower the same again!

Orzo, Bacon and Greens with Cauliflower Cheese Sauce by Nutmeg Nanny

I don’t mind foods that are lighter in calories but I’m not a fan of “fake” healthy food. You know, like fat-free potato chips or fat-free cookies. How can those things be fat free? Gah! It freaks me out.

That’s why when I decided I wanted to lighten up this recipe I went about it a little differently – cauliflower. I was skeptical at first. Would cauliflower really make a good cheese sauce? Would my dish just end up tasting like cauliflower and not cheese? This is the same reaction I have about things like kale chips. Yeah, no matter how much you love kale chips they will never be as good as potato chips. Don’t argue with me. You know deep down inside I’m right.

Luckily the sauce does not make the whole mixture taste like cauliflower. It’s amazingly creamy and full of garlic and Parmesan flavor. I swear I could have eaten this stuff with a spoon. It’s equally delicious on top plain pasta as well. I paired it with quick cooking orzo pasta, crunchy bacon, sweet onions, lots of sautéed collard greens and a big handful of quality (full-fat and totally delicious) sharp white cheddar cheese. I have a major love for quality dairy products. Remember folks, you get what you pay for when it comes to food.

Want to learn more about quality dairy? Go visit my friends over at the United Dairy Industry of Michigan. They represent all the hard working dairy farmers of Michigan. I have friends from high school who are now dairy farmers and their life is all about hard work. There is no such thing as a day off when it comes to being a dairy farmer. Head on over and support those amazing people who make it possible for you to smother your food in cheese and wash it down with a giant glass of milk.

This is also my second recipe for Mac & Cheese Mania. Remember to enter the giveaway. There are over $1800 worth of goodies up for grabs! Also, make sure to visit my blogger pal Rachel for her recipe today – Macaroni and cheese pizza. How amazing does that sound!?

Orzo, Bacon and Greens with Cauliflower Cheese Sauce by Nutmeg Nanny

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Orzo, Bacon and Greens with Cauliflower Cheese Sauce

This orzo, bacon and greens with cauliflower cheese sauce is full of flavor and lighter on the calories. You will never look at cauliflower the same again!

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 65 minutes

Ingredients:

For cauliflower sauce:

  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 3-1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil

For pasta:

  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 6 thick slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup diced collard greens
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1-1/3 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

Directions:

For cauliflower sauce:
In a large pot, add cauliflower florets and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook till fork tender.

Once tender, scoop out cauliflower and add to the vessel of a high-powered blender, I used my Vitamix.

Add 1/2 cup of the stock you cooked your cauliflower in, salt, pepper, garlic, half and half, Parmesan cheese and olive oil.

Puree on high until smooth. If the sauce seems too thick, simply add a little more stock or half and half. Set the sauce aside while you prepare the rest of the dish.

For pasta:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 8x8 pan with non-stick spray.

Fill a medium sized pot with water and place over high heat. Once the water is boiling add in the pasta and cook until al dente, follow box directions. Once cooked drain, drizzle with a little olive oil (to stop from sticking), dump back into the pot it was cooked in and let rest while you prepare the rest of the filling.

In a medium skillet add bacon and cook till crisp, drain on a paper towel.

Leave 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon grease in the pan. If there is not enough simply supplement with olive oil.

Add in collard greens and onions. Sauté quickly until onion is translucent and the greens are softened. Remove from the heat.

In the pot of your pasta add collard green mixture, bacon, 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese and 1 cup of the cauliflower sauce and stir together. Add more cauliflower sauce to reach desired texture.

My preference is 1-1/2 cups sauce but the more sauce you add the creamier it becomes.

Add mixture to your prepared dish and top with remaining 1/3 cup cheese.

Add to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the top of the mixture is browned.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the awesome folks at United Dairy of Michigan. However, all dairy love and opinions are 100% my own. 

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Jenn

Monday 24th of April 2017

I found an orange cauliflower yesterday and also had to snap it up. Such beautiful colour! Made this recipe tonight and it was delicious. I didn't have collard greens on hand, so used the greens from the cauliflower and swiss chard/baby spinach salad mix I had in the fridge. I'll be making this again, likely as a side dish with baked ham. Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I'll be trying your cheesy beer cauliflower soup. with the other half of the orange cauliflower :-)

Carol at Wild Goose Tea

Thursday 27th of February 2014

Whoa all the mac and cheese recipes---love it. But using cauliflower as a pasta substitute----too cool. It get my yes vote.

Joanne

Tuesday 25th of February 2014

I hate the fake stuff also. But I'm totally glad to hear that this cauli sauce is delicious enough to replace the real thing!

Meagan @ A Zesty Bite

Tuesday 25th of February 2014

This recipe is definitely getting saved. It looks like a perfect dinner.

Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures

Tuesday 25th of February 2014

This looks so delicious! The sauce looks so creamy!

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