A fun and healthy twist on mac and cheese? No, you’re not dreaming! Cauliflower mac and cheese is really what’s on the menu today.
I often use cauliflower as a base and substitute for some of my favorite comfort food dishes that need lightening up: cauliflower mashed potatoes, cauliflower rice and now I’m thrilled to serve up some cauliflower mac and cheese, if you please. Cauliflower is not only rich and nutritious, but serves as a great sponge for tons of delicious flavors. By soaking up tasty ingredients, the cauli transforms beautifully and helps to satisfy those naughty cravings with little to no guilt. WIN.
In this recipe, I take many of the traditional elements of a bomb mac and cheese (think: roux, baking, breadcrumbs) and use cauliflower as a means to reduce some of the calories, while keeping maximum flavor. Side note: I cheated and added a little elbow macaroni for texture, but eliminating that, the roux, and breadcrumbs would take the “skinny-fying” even a step further if you’d like.
Follow these easy steps and you’ll be giving cauliflower mac and cheese a spin in no time.
- 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 cup elbow macaroni pasta
- 2 cups cauliflower florets (cut pieces uniformly if some florets are too big)
- 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
- 1 ¼ cup 2% milk
- 1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Lightly oil or butter a 9-inch baking or casserole dish.
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add Panko breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until browned, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in parsley; set aside.
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook elbow macaroni for 6-7 minutes depending on desired tenderness. At the last 3 minutes of cooking time, add cauliflower and cook until tender; drain well and set aside.
- Melt remaining butter in medium sauce pan. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, using a whisk to stir until well blended.
- Slowly add the milk and sour cream, stirring continuously until blended.
- Simmer for 2 minutes or until it thickens, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and add the cheeses, stirring until melted.
- Combine pasta and cauliflower with cheese sauce and transfer to baking dish.
- Place into oven and bake until bubbly, about 15-18 minutes.
- Serve immediately topped with toasted Panko breadcrumbs.