Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Who doesn't love mac & cheese? It's creamy, it's comforting, it's cheesy and carby. It's fattening.

Except when you make it with cauliflower! A few years ago I stumbled across a cauliflower mac & cheese recipe in Runner's World and was intrigued. I put my own spin on it, and have been making it for a while now. It's become somewhat of a staple in our house since it feels so luxurious, but is really healthy.

To make the base, just cook some fresh cauliflower until it becomes very tender. Then puree it in a food processor with vegetable broth.

After the cauliflower is pureed until it's really smooth, transfer it to a mixing bowl and add some cheese and other flavorings.

The base should be the consistency of a typical cheese or b├ęchamel sauce. You can add more or less broth, depending on how thick you like your mac & cheese to be.

Toss your sauce with whole wheat pasta, and top it with some parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs.

Then bake it until it's bubbly and golden.

The cauliflower is really just a canvas for the other flavors you add, you can't taste the veggie at all once it's blended up and baked with the pasta.

When I made this on Sunday night, I served it alongside a fresh spring salad of arugula, pea pods and cherry tomatoes. It was a perfect complement to the pasta. If you're a mac & cheese lover but are looking for ways to healthify it so you can enjoy it more often, try this! You won't be disappointed. :)

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Serves 6
Adapted from Creamy Cauliflower Mac by Runner's World

12 oz. whole wheat pasta (shells or elbows work best)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cauliflower, cored and cut into large pieces
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
Black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook for about 8 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In another pot, add the cauliflower and a half cup water and cook for about 20 minutes, or until very tender, almost falling apart. Add more water if needed.

Drain the cauliflower and transfer it to a food processor. Process with broth, working in batches, until it's a very smooth consistency. Add the cheese, olive oil, mustard, nutmeg, salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce. 

Pour sauce over pasta and transfer it to a 13x9 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Top with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for about 15 minutes, until bubbly and golden.

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