Recipe from Carolyn’s Farm Kitchen
Mac & Cheese is always a warm welcome in winter and this recipe is truly a blank canvas for creativity! It can be prepared with many leftover cooked ingredients (such as spinach, bacon, roasted vegetables, or even shrimp or lobster), and works great using up all the different bits of cheeses you may have in your cheese drawer. Here, equal parts of roasted cauliflower and pasta are layered with a rich cheese sauce and topped with panko crumbs before baking. Melted and bubbly from the oven… it’s absolutely amazing!
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER MAC & CHEESE
Yield: 6 servings
½ lb. dried pasta (gemelli, penne, medium shells, rigatoni, or any pasta on hand)
1 lg. head cauliflower, cut into florets
Extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. cracked black pepper
4 Tbl. (1/2 stick) Unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
½ c. all-purpose flour
2 ¼ c. hot water
1 c. heavy cream
3 c. lightly packed shredded cheeses (see below*)
½ c. panko bread crumbs (regular or homemade crumbs can also be used)
1 tsp. olive oil
½ c. parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400. Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet, toss with olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing occasionally, until browned and tender. Remove from the oven, set aside, and reduce oven to 375. Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain, shock with cold water to stop the cooking, and transfer to a large bowl.
Prepare the sauce in the same pasta pot by melting the butter and whisking in the dry mustard, cayenne pepper, a pinch of salt and the black pepper. Add the flour and cook the roux over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Add half of the hot water and whisk vigorously to remove any lumps before adding the remaining water and heavy cream. Once the mixture is completely smooth and blended stir in the 3 cups of shredded cheese and cook over low heat until melted, 1-2 minutes. Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust if needed (note: if it seems too thick a small amount of water can be added).
Mix the cheese sauce with the pasta along with the roasted cauliflower and transfer the mixture to a large shallow baking dish. Blend the bread crumbs with the olive oil in a small bowl and mix in the parmesan. Sprinkle this over the top of the mac and cook on a baking sheet until bubbly hot and brown, approx. 30-40 minutes. Note: This dish can be prepared ahead and refrigerated for up to 4 days or freeze. Allow for a longer baking time – approx.40-50 minutes.
This is a great way to use up small bits of cheeses in the refrigerator! The dish can be made with just one good cheese such as sharp white cheddar, however a blend of 2-3 can be used including varieties such as Swiss or Gruyere, Monterey Jack, Colby, Provolone, Havarti, Fontina, Smoked Cheese, Goat Cheese, & Gorgonzola. For a good balance consider using larger amounts of milder cheeses blended with lesser amounts of pungent varieties.
More Recipes from Carolyn’s Farm Kitchen
Thank you, Carolyn, for your contribution to FarmMade’s mission!
Cold weather got you down?
Try Carolyn’s warming Curried Lentil & Root Vegetable Stew!
What’s your favorite cheese to put in mac & cheese? Leave us a comment and tell us your best combinations!