Monday, July 27, 2009

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

My fabulous stepmom taught me a lot of my cooking skills, and also helped me to develop many of my standard "loves" when it comes to food. One of my favorite vegetables is cauliflower and I never would have learned to love it if it wasn't for her teaching me how to make a basic cheese sauce to go over the top of it. When I was a kid, I would eat a good cheese sauce by the spoonful, with a little cauliflower to accent the flavor of the sauce! Unfortunately, cauliflower nears the top of my husband's list of most disliked foods, so I don't get to enjoy it unless he's not around. I thought I would just roast some while he was on his work trip and eat it with something simple, but then I got the idea for a baked macaroni & cheese with roasted cauliflower added in. What a concept! It was like my favorite cheese sauce & cauliflower mixture from my childhood, but with pasta added in! I think if I get the chance to make this again, I'll add some spices in to make it a little more suitable for my adult palate, but I encourage those with kids to do creative things like this to introduce kids to vegetables that are a little plain normally.

Cauliflower Macaroni & Cheese (by me!)
1 Tbs butter or margarine
1 Tbs Flour
1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup (or more) shredded cheddar cheese
Fresh cracked pepper
1.5 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup elbow macaroni
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
cooking spray
Spray cauliflower lightly with cooking spray or olive oil and roast in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove and set aside. Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions, but leave a little bit undercooked. Meanwhile, make cheese sauce by melting butter in a saucepan, adding flour and cooking for about 1 minute. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Allow to come to a slow boil. After the sauce is lightly boiling & thick, add shredded cheddar cheese to taste. Add fresh cracked pepper to taste. Add roasted cauliflower to sauce, mix well to combine. Add to cooked macaroni and stir, then pour into an 8" x 8" casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and panko. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove and spray with cooking spray, then return to oven for another 5-10 minutes or until top is golden brown. Makes 4 side dish servings or 2 large main dish servings.

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