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I went to the vegetable store two days ago and bought a big head of cauliflower with the thought of shredding it to make cauli-rice. Today, I made macaroni and cheese with it. It seems I was not very set in stone with my plans. 🙂
My son asked if we could have macaroni and cheese tonight because it has been so very long since we had pasta….4 days ago, I believe, we had spaghetti and meatballs. He initially asked me for baked cheesy spaghetti which then morphed into macaroni and cheese…..it’s utterly fascinating to watch his mind at work.
I agreed to the mac and cheese and then I caught sight of the cauliflower sitting on the counter (the fridge is stuffed full and there was no way that was going in it in one piece) – I thought to myself, self, you should try the mac and cheese that uses cauliflower instead. And then I thought to myself, self, that’s a really clever idea. And I made it so.
Prep time: 20 minutes Bake time: 20 minutes Total: 40 minutes
- 1 big head of cauliflower, cut up into bite sized florets (I cut off the big pieces and then rip them apart with my hands – less of a mess)
- 4 TB of butter or oil (I used olive oil – mostly because it sits beside the stove)
- 4 TB of flour (I used all purpose, but almond would be good if you wanted to go keto or low carb)
- ¾ cup of milk
- ¾ cup of cream (if you are keto, go with 1-1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream and skip the milk)
- 2 TB of Dijon mustard or mustard powder (you can add 1/2 tsp of nutmeg as well or instead – I don’t really love nutmeg in my mac & cheese, though, so I skipped it)
- 2 cups of cheese to go into the sauce – whatever kind(s) of cheese you wish. I used all cheddar, but you can use Swiss, mozzarella, Gouda or a mixture of a couple different kinds – way to clean out the fridge
- ¾ cup of shredded cheese to be sprinkled on the top (because why wouldn’t you?)
I saw on Recipe Tin Eats to roast the cauliflower first, so I did. The theory is that it dries out some of the water content in the cauliflower and then your sauce won’t get watery – I haven’t done it the other way, but I can say that my sauce did not get watery, so I would call that a success.
So, spread your cauliflower florets onto baking sheets (I needed 2 and if your cauliflower is big enough, you will too) and put them in the oven for 20 minutes at 390F. I stirred mine around at 10 minutes but I still got a few Cajun bits – that’s my oven and the baking sheets, and probably won’t be an issue for anyone else.
While you are baking your cauliflower, make your sauce.
In a saucepan on medium heat, add the oil or butter and heat it up a minute. Add the flour and whisk until you get it all incorporated and smooth.
Add about half of your milk or cream and whisk until smooth. Add the rest of the milk or cream and whisk until smooth again. I just poured all the milk and cream into one container before I started so I didn’t have to measure while I was trying to whisk – because, as we probably all know, if you burn that roux, you really do have to pitch it and start again.
Add the 2 cups of cheese and mix until it’s all melted and combined.
When your cauliflower is done baking, take it out and pour it into a casserole dish and turn the oven down to 350F.
Pour the sauce over it into the casserole with the cauliflower and mix them together thoroughly. Top with the remaining 3/4 cup of shredded cheese and pop into the oven for 15 or 20 minutes – until the sauce is bubbling and that cheese on top is melted.
Take out, let sit a couple minutes and serve.
It is very definitely not pasta, but it is absolutely not disappointing. It’s cheesy, the cauliflower has a bit of bite to it but is mild flavoured enough, like pasta, to let the cheesy flavour shine – as it is supposed to.
I can definitely substitute this for macaroni and cheese and not feel deprived or that I’m missing out. I think it just proves that cheese makes everything all right.
Keto Version with almond flour and all heavy whipping cream
Calories per serving: 480 Carbs: 11 Fat: 44 Protein: 12 Sodium: 345 Fibre: 3 Net Carbs: 8
Version Shown with regular flour and milk/heavy whipping cream mixed:
Calories per serving: 390 Carbs: 15 Fat: 33 Protein: 13 Sodium: 365 Fibre: 3 Net Carbs: 30