I don’t have pictures to show you, so you’ll have to trust me. This is good. Not in a buttery-cheesy-overly-rich way but in a wholesome-warm-cozy way. Plus, casseroles don’t really ever look particularly pretty photographed, do they? So trust me. (This degree of articulation will permeate the whole post; I’m home sick, so I’ll blame my inability to communicate well on that and the dayquil.)
Because I wanted to make a macaroni and cheese dish I’d feel good about eating, I used the typical healthify-ing strategies: lower the fat, include whole grains, and add more nutrients. With that in mind (and with some great recipes online), I created this one. Cauliflower has always struck me as broccoli’s less sexy cousin, but it’s perfectly versatile, which makes it well suited to this dish.
Do you have a favorite healthy comfort food recipe? Share the recipe, please!
Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
pinch of salt
3/4 pound whole wheat pasta (macaroni, penne, or rigatoni)
2 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 large head cauliflower
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbl flour
2 1/2 C 2% milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 Tbl Dijon mustard
2 1/2 C reduced-fat sharp white Cheddar cheese
1/2 C shredded Parmigiano cheese
1/4 C finely chopped Italian parsley
1 handful panko breadcrumbs
Bring water to a boil for pasta. Salt the water. Follow the package directions, but undercook the pasta by about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onions and garlic. Saute for 5-6, until tender. Add in the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and sage. When thickened, stir in the Dijon mustard and 2/3 of the combined cheeses.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Steam the cauliflower. When tender, remove the core, and chop into bite-size florets.
Drain the pasta; add to the cauliflower; stir in the cheese sauce and parsley; transfer to baking dish; top with remaining cheese. Sprinkle with panko. Cool completely and cover for a make-ahead meal.
Bake until brown on a baking sheet to catch the bubble-over. The casserole will take about 30 minutes to heat through and brown on top.