Mac’ n’ Cheese with Cauliflower

I admit not long ago I was the queen of dressing up mac’ n’ cheese from a box. With 2 toddlers they loved it, it was fast, easy and I could add real cheese along with a variety of other things to it to make me feel like it was “healthy”. I even joked I was going to write a book “101 ways to make Mac’ n’ Cheese”. There was Mac’n’cheese with Peas, Mac’n’cheese with Chopped Spinach, Mac’n’cheese with Cheddar (yeah the real stuff), and so on and so forth. Don’t judge me until you have 2 kids under the age of 2!

However, I also love food made from scratch. There is little processed food in our shopping carts, no frozen dinners and most of the “boxed” food involves cereal or noodles. The rest I like to prepare myself in part because it is so much better for you AND because I love to be in the kitchen!

I have noodle hounds on my hands…any type of noodle and they love it. So I came across this mac’ n’ cheese recipe that seemed like something they’d like and a grown up would enjoy too. I really like that it adds your veggies into the mix.  Dicing them small makes it harder for the kids to find them and thus complain about veggies in their mac! For the adults, the Dijon mustard and garlic give this a nice flavor. Oh and this was toooooo easy!  Took longer to boil the noodles than make the sauce!

Mac’n’cheese with Cauliflower

Ingredients:

2 cups cauliflower florets  (for the kids I chopped these up small)
Olive oil or cooking spray for the baking dish
3/4 – 1 lb noodles (macaroni, mini penne, cavatappi or here we used mini bowtie)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp salt
Pinch of cayenne
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan*
1/2 cup Boursin light garlic and herb spreadable cheese**
*I did not have this so I substituted grated mixed cheese
**I did not have this so I substituted cream cheese and 1tsp garlic herb seasoning

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread cauliflower on greased 13×9 baking pan. Roast until florets begin to brown about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
2. Cook pasta per box instructions. Drain and set aside.
3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk olive oil and flour for 1 min. Add milk, whisking constantly. Stir in mustard, salt, cayenne, garlic and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
4. Add cheddar cheese, parmesan (in my case the other mixed cheese), and Boursin (my case cream cheese and garlic/herb seasoning).
5. Combine with pasta and cauliflower, return everything to the baking pan.
6. Sprinkle top with cheese and bake 30 minutes until golden and cheese is bubbling.

Notes: I think this would be delish with some diced chicken in it.  Our family loves broccoli so I may  substitute that next time around.

Shown with garden salad straight from our garden, mixed greens, lemon cucumber (my new fave!), carrots and cherry tomatoes topped with homemade Balsamic vinegrette…mmmm!

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