Friday, March 20, 2015

Creamy Sharp Cheddar Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Time for March's Crazy Ingredient Challenge!



The ingredients for this month are cauliflower and cheese. I was really pumped when Dawn unveiled the ingredients in the beginning of the month because I love the combination. One of my favorite side dishes growing up was cheesy cauliflower. My mom would always steam a whole head and top it will cheese. The warm cauliflower melted the cheese into every nook and crannies- delicious. Immediately knew what type of recipe I wanted to make because it has been something on my back burner for a few months, but I was dragging my feet getting it on my weekly meal plan.  In the past year, I have seen cauliflower in almost everything from pizza crust to soup base. One of the uses that got my attention was mac and cheese. Since I love the flavor combo I knew it was a recipe that I needed to create for my family.  When I first told Ron what I was making his response was, "well that sounds strangely weird and delicious".  Precisely my dear, precisely. 

I opted to puree my cauliflower with milk, butter and cheese to replace the flour normally used to make a cheese sauce. The texture was a little thicker after my first blend, but adding a little additional milk to the pasta solved the problem.  I loved the flavor of the sauce with the noodles. I was literally over the pan eating spoonfuls before cutting myself off and getting the pasta into the oven. I noticed that the cauliflower flavor was more noticeable fresh from the skillet, but after it was baked I could not even tell it was there.  Kellen gobbled this down (of course), and told me "I love this mac and cheese mama!".  Her melts my heart.... well until he dumps his legos on the floor (the worse sounds to hear from the next room is the lego box dumping). I served this with  grilled pesto chicken sausage from Trader Joe's and a green salad. Ron and I both agreed that the meal was fantastic! 

Tonight, we are headed out to grab fish and broasted chicken. I am also hoping that Ron and I can watch a movie after Kellen goes to bed. Saturday, I am really hoping to get outside to play and I will be helping my friend Emily prepare for the Belly to Baby Expo! 

If you are interested in joining our challenge, stop over to Dawn of Spatulas on Parade to say hello and to get more information.  I am excited to see what everyone else made, and what next month will bring! 


Ingredients

One whole head of cauliflower cored and chopped into medium pieces
1 lb shaped pasta (I used Cavatappi noodles)
3/4 cup milk, divided (I use 2%)
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided 
4 Tbl butter
Salt and pepper
2/3 cup unseasoned bread cumbs
 2 Tbl butter, melted


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray or butter and set aside. 

In a microwave safe bowl  arrange cauliflower and add about an inch of water to the bottom of the dish. Cover and microwave till tender, about 6-7 minutes depending on size.  While cauliflower is cooking cook pasta according to package instructions leaving it slightly al dente.  

Drain the cauliflower and place it in a food processor or blender.  Add 1/2 cup milk and butter. Process until smooth. 

Dain the cooked pasta and return it  the pot it was cooked in. Add the cauliflower mixture and 2 cups of cheese. Stir gently to evenly coat. Add the remaining milk and gently stir to slightly thin the mac and cheese.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Pour the pasta into the prepared baking dish.  Top with remaining cheese. Toss bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the pasta. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and hot. 



6 comments:

  1. Mac N Cheese... the ultimate comfort food. I loved you used Cavatappi pasta. I love the shape and it makes the food look better too. Great use of the ingredients this month. I love this!

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  2. Never thought of using cauliflower in a sauce.. great inspiration of out challenge

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  3. I hear you on the horrible sound of the Lego box dumping!

    My son loves Mac and Cheese maybe I will try this for him with the rest of the cauliflower I have.

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  4. With the cauliflower you can use less pasta so it's healthier, great idea. Looks good too.

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  5. We made a similar sauce. I loved how I couldn't really detect cauliflower after it heated up in the oven for a bit. Your mac and cheese looks delicious.

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