Mouth-Watering Braised Cauliflower with Crispy Bacon
Welcome to my kitchen, where I’m going to show you how to make a delicious and hearty dish that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. This braised cauliflower with bacon recipe is perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a weeknight dinner or a special event. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s also packed with flavor and nutrients that will leave you feeling satisfied and energized.
If you’re a fan of roasted cauliflower, then you’re going to love this braised cauliflower recipe. The addition of thick slab bacon and pancetta takes this dish to another level, adding a smoky and savory flavor that complements the tender cauliflower florets perfectly. The dish is seasoned with garlic, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to give it a bit of a kick, making it a great dish to serve to guests who love a little bit of spice.
The best part about this recipe is that it’s versatile and can be customized to your liking. You can make a cheesy cauliflower bake by adding some grated cheese on top of the dish before baking it. Or, you can even make a loaded cauliflower casserole by adding more ingredients like broccoli or fried cauliflower. The possibilities are endless, and I can’t wait to show you how to make it. Let’s get started!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Are you tired of the same old roasted cauliflower? Do you want to add a little excitement to your dinner table? Look no further than this delicious Braised Cauliflower with Bacon recipe! Trust me, it’s a game-changer.
Firstly, let’s talk about the star of the show: the cauliflower. By braising the cauliflower, it becomes tender and juicy, while still retaining its natural flavor. It’s also a great way to change up your typical cauliflower cooking routine. And let’s not forget about the bacon. Everything is better with bacon, right? The thick slab bacon adds a smoky, salty flavor that pairs perfectly with the cauliflower.
But what sets this recipe apart is the combination of flavors. The garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and whole tomatoes create a savory and slightly spicy tomato sauce that coats the cauliflower and bacon. Plus, the bacon grease adds an extra layer of richness that will make your taste buds sing.
This recipe is also incredibly versatile. It can be served as a side dish or as the main event with a side of crusty bread. It’s perfect for a cozy night in or as a show-stopping dish at a dinner party. And if you’re on a low-carb or keto diet, this recipe is a must-try.
So, why will you love this recipe? Because it’s a delicious and unique way to enjoy cauliflower, it has the perfect balance of flavors, it’s versatile, and it’s perfect for any occasion. Trust me, once you try this Braised Cauliflower with Bacon recipe, you’ll never go back to plain old roasted cauliflower again.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this delicious braised cauliflower with bacon recipe:
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 4 lb thick slab bacon, cut into 1 inch slices
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Seasonings and Spices:
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
Make sure to choose a healthy head of cauliflower that is firm and has no brown spots or discoloration on the florets. For the bacon, I recommend using a thick slab bacon or pancetta as it will hold up better during cooking and add a rich, smoky flavor to the dish. Don’t forget to drain and chop your whole tomatoes before adding them to the recipe.
You’ll also need basic seasonings and spices such as garlic powder, black pepper, salt and pepper to taste. These ingredients will help enhance the flavors of the dish and bring out the natural sweetness of the cauliflower.
The Recipe How-To
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 4 lb thick slab bacon, sliced into 3-4 inch thick pieces
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 can whole tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cook the Bacon
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon slices until crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet and drain on paper towels. Reserve the bacon grease in the skillet.
Sauté the Onion and Garlic
Add onion and garlic to the skillet with the bacon grease and sauté for 5-10 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
Add Tomatoes and Red Pepper Flakes
Add whole tomatoes and crushed red pepper flakes to the skillet with the onion and garlic. Use a spoon to break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomato sauce has thickened.
Add Cauliflower Florets
In a large mixing bowl, toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Add the seasoned cauliflower to the skillet with the tomato sauce and stir to combine.
Bake the Cauliflower
Transfer the cauliflower and tomato sauce mixture to a baking dish. Arrange the cooked bacon slices on top of the cauliflower, then drizzle with bacon grease. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and the bacon is crispy.
Serve the braised cauliflower with bacon hot, garnished with chopped parsley or chives, if desired. This dish is perfect as a side dish or a main dish, and it pairs well with roasted or fried vegetables or a salad. Enjoy!
Substitutions and Variations
While this braised cauliflower with bacon recipe is already packed with flavor, there are a few substitutions and variations you can try to make it even more exciting. Here are some ideas to experiment with:
– Swap the bacon for pancetta: If you prefer a milder, sweeter taste to your pork, try using pancetta instead of bacon. This Italian cured meat has a similar texture to bacon but a more delicate flavor that won’t overpower the cauliflower.
– Use roasted cauliflower instead: If you’re short on time or just love the nutty flavor of roasted cauliflower, you can skip the braising step and just toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in a preheated oven at 400°F for about 20 minutes. Then, add the bacon and garlic to the baking dish and roast for an additional 5-10 minutes until everything is crispy and golden brown.
– Make it cheesy: If you’re a fan of cheesy cauliflower, feel free to sprinkle some shredded cheddar, Parmesan, or Gouda on top of the bacon and cauliflower mixture before baking it in the oven. The cheese will melt and create a gooey, savory crust that’s hard to resist.
– Turn it into a casserole: If you want to serve this dish as a main course or a side dish for a crowd, you can easily turn it into a casserole by layering the bacon and cauliflower mixture in a large baking dish and topping it with more cheese and some breadcrumbs or crushed crackers. Bake it in the oven at 350°F for about 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown.
– Try different types of bacon: While thick-slab bacon is the star of this recipe, you can experiment with other types of bacon to see what flavors you like best. Hickory-smoked, maple-glazed, or applewood-smoked bacon can add a different dimension to the dish and give it a unique twist.
– Add other veggies: While cauliflower is the star of the show here, you can mix it up by adding other veggies to the mix. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or even whole tomatoes can complement the flavors of the bacon and garlic and add some color to the dish. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly and keep an eye on the veggies so they don’t become soggy.
Serving and Pairing
Braised cauliflower with bacon is a versatile dish that can be served as a main course or as a side dish. The rich, savory flavors of bacon and garlic perfectly complement the tender, succulent cauliflower.
For a main course, I recommend serving this dish with a simple green salad or roasted vegetables. The roasted cauliflower florets can be topped with grated Parmesan cheese or a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes for added flavor and texture.
As a side dish, braised cauliflower with bacon pairs well with grilled or roasted meats, such as chicken or pork chops. It can also be served alongside a hearty soup or stew, such as beef chili or vegetable soup.
For a vegetarian option, try serving this dish with a quinoa or rice pilaf and a side of sautéed greens. The combination of the nutty grains and the tender vegetables is both satisfying and nutritious.
In terms of wine pairing, a medium-bodied red wine, such as a Pinot Noir or Grenache, pairs well with the savory flavors of bacon and garlic in this dish. Alternatively, a crisp white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, can help balance the richness of the bacon and add a refreshing note to the meal.
No matter how you choose to serve it, braised cauliflower with bacon is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Its comforting flavors and hearty texture make it a perfect choice for a cozy dinner at home or a potluck with friends and family.
Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating
This braised cauliflower with bacon recipe is a great make-ahead dish that can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. The flavors actually intensify as the dish sits, making it even more delicious the next day. To store, let the dish cool completely before covering it with plastic wrap or an airtight container. It can be reheated in the oven or microwave.
To reheat in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F. Take the dish out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. Then, remove the plastic wrap or lid and cover the dish with foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
To reheat in the microwave, transfer the braised cauliflower and bacon to a microwave-safe dish and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Stir halfway through the cooking time to ensure even heating.
Note that if you plan to make this dish ahead of time, it’s best to slightly undercook the cauliflower so that it doesn’t become soggy when reheated. Also, if you plan to freeze the dish, it might not retain its texture well and might become mushy when thawed.
Tips for Perfect Results
When it comes to making braised cauliflower with bacon recipe, there are a few tips that can help you achieve perfect results every time.
Firstly, it is important to preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit before starting the recipe. This ensures that the oven is at the right temperature to cook the cauliflower and bacon to perfection.
Next, make sure to cut the cauliflower into uniform florets to ensure even cooking. If the florets are too large, they may not cook through properly, while if they are too small, they may become too soft and mushy.
It is also important to toss the cauliflower with enough olive oil to coat each floret, along with garlic powder, black pepper, and salt. This will infuse the cauliflower with flavor and help it to cook evenly.
When adding the bacon to the recipe, it is best to use thick slab bacon or pancetta. Thinly sliced bacon may become too crispy and may not provide enough flavor to the dish.
Additionally, make sure to cook the bacon until it is crispy and golden brown before adding it to the cauliflower. This will help to bring out the smoky and salty flavors of the bacon.
Finally, when baking the cauliflower and bacon in the oven, it is important to keep an eye on the dish to make sure that it does not become too crispy or burnt. If the cauliflower is becoming too crispy, cover it with foil to prevent it from becoming too dry.
By following these tips, you can create a delicious and flavorful braised cauliflower with bacon recipe that is sure to impress your friends and family.
Now that you’ve learned all about the ingredients and how to make this delicious Braised Cauliflower with Bacon recipe, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions that might come up during the cooking process. These FAQs will help you troubleshoot any problems and make sure that your dish turns out perfectly every time. So, let’s dive in!
Do you have to blanch cauliflower before cooking?
Freezing cauliflower without blanching is possible, but it’s not recommended. Blanching is essential as it helps preserve the nutritional value of the vegetable and prevents any texture changes when it’s cooked. This is why it’s highly encouraged to blanch your cauliflower before storing it in the freezer.
Do you soak cauliflower before cooking?
To ensure that your organic cauliflower is free from any unwanted critters, you may want to consider soaking the head in salt water for half an hour before cooking. This method effectively removes and eliminates any potential protein sources. Once the soaking is complete, it is important to rinse the head thoroughly with cool water.
How do you not overcook cauliflower?
When preparing cauliflower, it’s important to ensure that the florets maintain their shape and texture. To achieve this, steaming is the best cooking method, taking between 5-10 minutes. It’s crucial to remember to place the florets upright in the steamer to prevent them from breaking apart. Alternatively, boiling is also an option, with florets taking around 5-10 minutes to cook and a whole cauliflower taking approximately 10 minutes. To avoid overcooking, it’s recommended to test the cauliflower regularly with the tip of a knife.
Why is my roasted cauliflower mushy?
When it comes to roasting cauliflower, one must avoid overcrowding the pan as it can lead to the florets becoming soggy and mushy. Additionally, using an excessive amount of oil can have the same effect. It is essential to strike a balance and provide just enough oil to caramelize the cauliflower without making it too greasy. A light coating of oil is ideal for achieving the perfect texture.
In conclusion, this braised cauliflower with bacon recipe is a perfect dish for any occasion, whether it’s a lazy Sunday brunch or a weeknight dinner. This recipe is a delicious and healthy way to enjoy cauliflower, which is packed with nutrients and fiber. The combination of savory bacon and tender cauliflower creates a mouth-watering taste that will make your taste buds dance with joy.
Moreover, this recipe is incredibly versatile, and you can easily customize it to your liking. You can add different spices, swap the bacon with pancetta, or even add some roasted tomatoes to make it more flavorful. Furthermore, this recipe is easy to make, and it takes less than an hour to prepare and cook.
Lastly, this braised cauliflower with bacon recipe is perfect for those who are looking for a low-carb or keto-friendly dish. It is also suitable for those who want a more wholesome and nutritious alternative to traditional comfort foods.
In conclusion, this recipe is a must-try for anyone who loves cauliflower and bacon. It is a delicious, healthy, and versatile dish that will surely impress your family and friends. So, what are you waiting for? Head to the kitchen and start cooking this mouth-watering braised cauliflower with bacon recipe today!
Braised Cauliflower With Bacon Recipe
- 1 cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 -4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1/4 lb thick slab bacon (but large enough that you get an occasional bite) or 1/4 lb pancetta, cut in small pieces (but large enough that you get an occasional bite)
- 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed in your hands (use good ones!)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more or less, to taste)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Remove stem from cauliflower (but you can keep the leaves, if any -- they're delicious!).
- Sauté garlic and bacon in olive oil in a large heavy pot until lightly browned. Add onions and continue to sauté until onions are softened.
- Add cauliflower stem-side down. Pour tomatoes over and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for about an hour or until done (will depend on size of cauliflower -- mine took about 70 minutes).
- Remove cauliflower, bring sauce to simmer and let reduce for a little while, then pour over cauliflower and serve.
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Lucy is a mom who loves to cook up a storm. She enjoys discovering, collecting, and experimenting with delicious, healthy recipes for her blog. With her passion for cooking, Lucy is always coming up with her own unique creations to share with the world.