One afternoon a couple of weeks ago I was at Wegmans, minding my own business, looking through the nice display of huge heads of cauliflower and searching for the perfect head that was destined to come home with me.
I noticed a woman checking out my head (talking about the cauliflower head here) as I approached the produce scale to get my bar code sticker. She commented on how beautiful it looked (I was hopeful she was talking about the head attached to my neck now…) She then told me how much she loves cauliflower. I agreed and we went on to discuss the various ways we like to eat cauliflower… steamed, raw, roasted or standing on our heads (cauliflower or otherwise), we’ll happily eat it.
This lovely stranger then went on to describe a cauliflower pie recipe that she loves and makes frequently. She told me this recipe has a crust made with shredded potatoes and the potato crust is filled with sauteed cauliflower and cheese. From her gestures and movements I could tell she wanted to write the recipe down for me, but then suddenly with excitement she said “It’s in the Moosewood Cookbook! Do you know it?”
Sort of. I knew that The Moosewood Cookbook was from Ithaca, New York – a city about 2 hours from here. That was all I really knew of it though, I’d never looked through it or had even seen it for that matter. I told my Cauliflower Sister that I would look for the recipe online and thanked her for the idea.
I’d almost forgotten about this conversation until this afternoon. Today while visiting a girlfriend and perusing her collection of cookbooks, I spotted The Moosewood Cookbook! The cauliflower conversation came flooding back as I snagged the book off the shelf. I flipped to the index and sure enough, there it was! Cauliflower Cheese Pie.
And my inspiration for tonight’s dinner was born.
It turns out that all the recipes in The Moosewood Cookbook are vegetarian! I had no idea! It was originally written in 1977 and is based on the cuisine of The Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca.
While all the recipes are vegetarian, most of the recipes contain large quantities of cheese, eggs, milk and butter. I took the original Cauliflower Cheese Pie recipe and made some tweaks to make it slightly healthier and a little lower in fat and calories.
Here’s my adapated version of the Moosewood Cauliflower Pie Recipe that I made tonight.
1 large sweet potato, peeled (optional) and shredded. (I swapped out white potato.)
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, shredded
Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Add shredded potato and onion to beaten egg, stir well to combine. Grease 9 inch pie pan and form potato mixture into crust. Bake crust for 40 minutes.
4 – 5 oz shredded cheese
1 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 cups of spinach, trimmed and washed
1 glove of garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 milk (I used plain, unsweetened almond milk)
thyme, basil, paprika
In my version, I swapped out 3 tablespoons of butter for 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and a half cup of vegetable broth. Add olive oil, diced onion and minced garlic into a pan and sautee until soft. Add herbs and spices to mixture and stir well until veggies are well coated.
Add broth and cauliflower to pan and cover, cooking for about 10 minutes. Add spinach to pan and cook for 5 minutes. The original recipe didn’t call for spinach but I wanted a little bit of green in this pie!
The spinach reduces down to almost nothing when cooked so don’t be shy throwing a couple handfuls in.
In a separate bowl beat two eggs and add milk, set aside.
When the crust is ready, remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 F.
Layer half of the cheddar cheese on the bottom of the cooked crust.
Top with cauliflower/spinach mixture.
Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of veggies and finally pour egg/milk mixture over the entire pie.
Bake pie at 375 for about 35 minutes.
Time to eat.
My math tells me this entire pie contained 1302 calories. Cut into 6 slices, 217 calories per slice. I expected it to be much more so this was a pleasant surprise.
I thumbed through Moosewood Cookbook while the pie was baking and I can’t wait to try more the recipes in this book, so many great ideas! I snagged another book from my friend Tara’s house when I was there too, oh boy I’m gonna be busy.
Dear Stranger From Wegmans,
Thank you so much for recommending this recipe to me! It was delicious and nutritious. It was a lot of work, but well worth it. In fact, I think I might even make this for our main course at Thanksgiving while our carnivorous family members dine on turkey. Even if you only complimented one of the two heads I had with me on that fateful day, I am grateful for our short conversation. I liked your head too.
Two Headed Mama