Not too very long ago I was at a local barbecue place here in town and had their loaded baked potato casserole. Baked potatoes are one of life’s great little side item gifts when paired with a sturdy protein such as a steak or good pork chop. Loading them up with things like bacon, sour cream, chives, cheese, and now you’re talking. All of that said, one of my biggest complaints with a baked potato is the way the toppings often are just that. You get a lot of topping and little potato at the start, but by the end you’re just left with the skin and some potato chunks with nothing to mix in. That’s when twice baked potatoes or baked potato casseroles really shine.
Now, before getting into too much trouble talking about the fully leaded version, hear me out on a few substitutions I came up with to make a guilty classic a little less sinful. By simply swapping out cauliflower for the potatoes, skim milk and margarine for cream and butter, and turkey bacon for real bacon you can remove over 1,000 calories per bowl full. Admittedly this lighter version doesn’t have the creaminess or depth of flavor as it’s fully loaded brethren, but for those times when you want to be a little more careful of what you eat, this compares surprisingly well.
Pre-Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut up the Cauliflower into florets. Steam (or boil if you don’t have the ability to steam) the florets for about 10 minutes until softened, but still firm. While cauliflower is steaming, cook turkey bacon to desired level of crispiness. Remove turkey bacon from pan and cut into small strips or bites.
Place margarine and milk in a pan and bring up to a simmer to incorporate.
When cauliflower is finished steaming, remove it from the steamer and place into a mixing bowl. Using an immersion blender (or a masher if a blender isn’t available) puree the cauliflower until smooth. Fold the cheese, bacon, sour cream, green onions, and milk mixture into the cauliflower. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Add remaining cheese to top and set oven to broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese has melted and top is slightly browned. Remove from oven, garnish with remaining green onion and serve!
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