I wish I hadn’t taken so long to get into the cauliflower thing, its quickly become one of my favorite veggies. I love how it roasts to a perfect crispness, which makes it perfect to add some texture to Mac and Cheese. It also helps round out the dish a bit, definitely doesn’t make it “healthy” but adds a little more overall nutrition.
I decided to make this Mac and Cheese with a “three nation” cheese blend. I did a combo of gruyere, manchego, and parmigiano reggiano. All three grate really easily and none are particularly overpowering. They are in many ways their countries equivalent cheese. Overall, I like a good sharp cheese to to me its perfect especially as it pairs with the cauliflower and cayenne I like to use.
I also mixed this batch up a bit in an attempt to save some effort. Normally, I used fresh ground sourdough breadcrumbs, but I was just not feeling like expending the effort on this one. I decided to just use panko, which has the benefit of providing and overall more uniform and slightly crunchy topping that the sourdough often produces.
Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
- 1 Lb Shell Pasta
- 1 Head Cauliflower or equivalent cut into small pieces
- 4 Tbs butter
- 3 Tbs Flour
- 3 Cups Milk warmed
- 1 Cup Gruyere grated
- 1 Cup Manchego grated
- 1/2 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated
- 1/2 Tsp Cayenne
- 1/4 Tsp Cayenne for the cauliflower
- 1/4 Tsp Chipotle Powder
- 1 Cup Panko
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Arrange the cauliflower florets on a sheet pan. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, the smaller cayenne portion, and chipotle powder. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Cook the macaroni until slightly undercooked, typically about 1.5-2 minutes less than normal. Start the macaroni about half way through the sauce preparation.
- Warm the milk in a small sauce pan or the microwave, do not boil.
- Heat the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour to create a roux. Cook for about 1-2 minutes until slightly browned and thick.
- Add the warm milk, stirring continuously. Allow to reduce over medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the cheese and the cayenne. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Rub the inside of a baking dish or casserole with butter. Add the pasta, cauliflower, and sauce to the dish and stir to combine. Top with the panko. Drizzle with a little bit of butter.
- Bake for 10 minutes.