Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

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Everyone has their own macaroni and cheese recipe. My mom’s is a classic that uses butter, milk and American cheese. That’s it. It’s simplicity at its best except that American cheese is terrible for you. It cannot even be classified as cheese in Europe. But in my mama’s mac and cheese it’s ah-maaaaazing!

I’ve made lots of Mac and cheese variations over the years using various cheeses and noodles. It’s a high calorie side dish thanks to all the noodles and butter and cheese…. It’s so yummy! Like whoever invented it deservesthe Pulitzer Prize of food award (does that exist lol?)

This is the first time I used half noodles and half cauliflower in the recipe. As a lover of all things cauliflower I loved the idea of this shake up! I’ve tried cauliflower in mashed potatoes (once again….AH-MAZING!) so would adding it to this dish also change my life in an earth shattering way?

As for the cheese, I literally threw in whatever I had in the refrigerator. My combination was a mix of mild cheddar cheese, gouda cheese and Swiss. To make it extra creamy I included a little bit of cream cheese. I definitely liked that touch and I’ll do it in ever mac & cheese recipe to the end of my day.

I didn’t tell the kids there was cauliflower in it and no one asked. They ate it up! Don’t tell your kids. I promise they won’t be able to tell. There’s so much cheese in this dish that the taste of the cauliflower is hidden beneath a luscious layer of cheesy goodness.

The only thing I would change is doubling the amount of cauliflower if you really want to savor the flavor in every bite. But if you’re not cauliflower obsessed start slow and do only 1 head. Next time I’m going to try 4oz pasta and 2 heads cauliflower. Heck maybe I’ll even throw in a head of broccoli! If nothing else it’ll really reduce the calories!

I hope you love this one!

Roasted Cauliflower Mac & Cheese (Makes 12 1/2 cup servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Head of Cauliflower, cut into small, bite-sized pieces. 
  • 1/2 Red Pepper, diced small (about 1/4 cup)
  • 5 Shallots, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 thinly sliced Garlic Cloves
  • 3 cups (9oz) Assorted Cheese like Gouda, Cheddar, Swiss
  • 2oz Cream Cheese
  • 8 oz Pasta Shells
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 2T Unsalted Butter
  • 2T Flour
  • 3/4 C Bread Crumbs
  • Black Pepper to Taste
  • 1/2t Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to directions. Stir in 1T Olive Oil to prevent the pasta from sticking. Keep warm.
  2. Preheat oven to 425F, with rack positioned in the center of the oven.
  3. Line a sheet pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray.
  4. Arrange cauliflower on the sheet pan with the diced onions and bell peppers in one layer. Roast for 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 minutes, shake and gently, using a spatula, redistribute the cauliflower again in one layer. Add garlic. Return to oven for 15 minutes then check again. The cauliflower should be  a nice golden color with bits of dark brown. Cook for an additional 5 minutes if needed.  
  6. Pile the cauliflower mixture to the center of the pan. Add 1/2 cup cheese and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is throughly melted.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside. 
  8. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 350F.
  9. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  10. Warm milk until steaming but not boiling in a small saucepan.
  11. In a large pot (same as you used for the pasta). Heat 2T Butter until melted and bubbling. Turn heat to low and add flour, whisking constantly. Slowly add in the milk, whisking constantly. Make sure there are no lumps. 
  12. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, cream cheese and remaining cheese. Whisk in and remove from heat. 
  13. Stir in cooked pasta and cauliflower mixture to sauce. 
  14. Transfer the mac and cheese to the baking dish and cover with breadcrumbs. 
  15. Bake for about 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are toasty and the mac and cheese is heated throughly. 

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