Cauliflower Mac + Cheese

Friday, 19 February 2016

In spite of all the bad rep that the blue Kraft Easy Mac mac + cheese boxes with the orange flavouring get, I actually really liked them in my youth. In fact, if someone served me some today I would probably happily eat it. ("Dude, macaroni + cheese is food of the gods" - Haley James Scott) It has a very nostalgic/early high school vibe to it which is very comforting. Even if it isn't the healthiest meal (:

I remember when we first moved into our current house, we were unpacking boxes and one of my friends was over to hang out and help. We didn't have a microwave yet. My friend and I decided to make it on the stove (thinking 'how hard can it be?') and it was very disastrous. I'm not even sure what went wrong but it was just terrible - I don't think it got burnt, but anyway, I think that was the last time I had it.

Anyway, I would still eat some today, but I would eat this cauliflower mac + cheese every day! The cauliflower addition is not just a way to make this healthy (it isn't really, because there's still a bunch of cheese in it, because, cheese) but it makes it more delicious and filling. 

I think you could probably add in any other vegetable (carrot, pumpkin, zucchini, anything!) and it would be equally as delicious but I'm a big fan of cauliflower and so we always have heaps at home. The cauliflower is roasted with salt, pepper and rosemary and then pureed and added in in place of the roux that's normally in mac + cheese. 

Cauliflower Macaroni & Cheese
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, in small pieces
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, torn into pieces
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 2 cups macaroni (any kind), cooked
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (optional, but delicious)
  • 1/2 cup milk*
  • 3 tbsp cheddar
  • 3 tbsp pecorino 
  • 2 tbsp cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs**
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and then scatter cauliflower, onion, garlic, and rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil, salt + pepper to taste, and bake for 20 minutes until browned.
  2. While waiting, you can prepare your mac + cheese pan by spray-oiling it. I used this lil cutie roasting pan. 
  3. Once cauliflower + friends are done, allow to cool for a few minutes. Remove the wooden rosemary bits if you have any, before transferring to blender. Add in milk and blend to desired consistency. I left mine quite chunky because I was impatient like the texture. Add cheddar, pecorino, cottage cheese to cauliflower puree. Reserve some pecorino for later.
  4. Mix breadcrumbs, and assorted herbs, and reserved pecorino together.
  5. Add the corn to the macaroni, stirring to combine. Pour cauliflower + cheese mixture in and stir to combine. Transfer into mac + cheese pan. (If you are lazy like me, you can just do the mixing all in the pan) Sprinkle herbalicious breadcrumb mixture over, and put tray back into oven for 15 minutes or until it is a bubbling pan of deliciousness with golden breadcrumb crust. 
  6. Serve happily.

* I am slightly lactose intolerant (will eat dairy if it is delicious enough to override queasy stomach feelings - cheese and ice creams are my exceptions to my lactose rule), so we don't have milk at home. I used almond and it was perfectly fine, so please feel free to sub milk of your choice.
** I would ideally have used Panko, but we didn't have any, so instead I tore up one slice of rye + quinoa bread (any kind will do), and pulsed in the food processor.

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