Monday, September 17, 2012

cauliflower macaroni and cheese

Only four more days of summer! Here's a big dish of comfort food, made slightly healthier and lighter with the addition of cauliflower. It's inspired by these recipes - Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese over on Vegetarian Times, and Jamie Oliver's Macaroni and Cheese

cauliflower macaroni and cheese
I made this gluten-free and low lactose by using rice pasta, soy milk and gluten-free flour - but I couldn't get rid of the real cheese. Make a more decadent dish by using whole milk, white pasta and all purpose flour (and don't forget the butter). I made mine with only 2 cups of cheese, but you could increase this to 4 cups if you want a richer, cheesier dish. Or, you could go in the other direction and make it vegan by adding some grated vegan cheese. Makes 6-8 servings.

1 large head of cauliflower
2 cups dry macaroni (regular or rice pasta)
1 tsp kosher salt

1 shallot, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil or butter

2 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
2 tbsp flour (gluten free or all-purpose)
2 cups milk (whatever kind you like)
2 tsp mustard powder
salt and pepper
2 cups grated mozzarella (up to 4 cups for more cheesiness)
large handful of parsley, chopped

3 slices of bread (gluten-free or regular)
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
salt and pepper
olive oil or butter

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Remove leaves from cauliflower, core and break into large pieces. Add cauliflower and macaroni to pot, and cook according to pasta package. When done, drain, and refresh under cold water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, saute shallots and garlic in oil. When soft, remove from pot, set aside, and heat pot again. Add 2 tbsp of butter or oil, let it get hot, then add flour. Stir for one minute, until flour is browned. Slowly stir in milk, whisking until smooth. Bring to simmer, stirring frequently. Add mustard powder, salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring often for about 5 minutes, or until sauce is thickened. Stir in grated cheese, add the cooked shallots and garlic and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400. Toast bread slices (unless already stale). In a food processor, combine bread (torn into chunks), rosemary, salt and pepper. Pulse, until it reaches a fine crumb. Set aside.

Now, the assembly: grease a large, ovenproof casserole dish with a splash of oil. Add pasta and cauliflower, and use a potato masher or the back of a spoon to break up the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Pour the cheese sauce and chopped parsley over, and stir to combine. Finally, sprinkle the rosemary crumbs evenly over the top, and then dot with butter or drizzle with oil. Cook for 10 minutes on the top rack of the oven, until the top is crisp and the pasta and cauliflower are hot. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

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