As a kid I loved cauliflower cheese, it was a side we would have with a roast dinner during winter in England. This dish is a cross between mac n cheese and cauliflower cheese, so it brings back lovely memories for me and is a yummy comfort food. This is a great meat free main meal or works well as a side, especially with classic American dishes like steak, ribs, chicken wings.
Cauliflower mac n cheese is a simple dish, with lots of health benefits and easy to whip up as a mid week meal but its one the kids will love too!
The health benefits of cauliflower
There's a reason cauliflower is so popular at the moment, even though it is a white food, it is extremely nutritious. High in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and B vitamins, it is also good for gut health and as a watery vegetable it helps hydrate the body. With so many health benefits its a great vegetable to add to your 5 a day.
How to make mac n cheese sauce.
This is a great pasta sauce to cook from scratch using a simple cheese sauce recipe. You really don't need a store brought sauce jar and even better the ingredients are pantry staples, using just butter, flour, milk and cheese. Once you master this sauce its one you can repeat again and again!
Start by melting the butter on a low heat, then add the flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir this together over a low heat for a few minutes to cook out the flour. (Shane's tip: you want to it to reach a sand like consistency). Continue to stir and add the milk slowly, about a quarter at a time, allow the sauce to thicken before adding more milk. Once all the milk has been added, keep stirring and cooking the sauce on a low heat until it is a good sauce consistency. Then add the grated cheese, mix well until melted and season with a good pinch of salt. As an optional tasty extra, I love to add a good pinch of nutmeg or dijon mustard.
For those who already know how to make a cheese sauce from scratch this dish will be super easy, but if you haven't tried it before, leave the jar at the supermarket and give it a go. We are adding this dish to our back to basics collection, as its a great sauce to learn.
As a note for this recipe, don't cook the sauce through to the end desired thickness, as it will keep cooking in the oven, so leave it a little more runny.
How to create a crispy mac n cheese topping
To make the classic crisp mac and cheese topping, add the pasta, sauce and cauliflower to the oven dish, then top with grated cheese and panko crumbs. Place the dish in the oven at 200*c for 30 mins, this will create a tasty crisp finish to your dish.
If you have been following our recipes, you will know that we aren't vegetarians but like so many now we do enjoy meat free meals. This a great quick and easy mid week meal, using cauliflower that is packed full of health benefits, so it really is a win, win!
Cauliflower Mac N Cheese
- 2 Cups Cauliflower (Uncooked)
- 300 g Macaroni (Dried pasta)
- ¼ teaspoon Thyme (Dried)
- 35 g Butter
- 1 ½ Heaped tbsp Flour
- 700 ml Milk
- 150 g Cheddar Cheese (Grated)
- 50 g Parmesan (Grated)
- 1-2 Handfuls Panko crumbs
- A pinch Nutmeg
- Preheat your oven to 200°c.
- Put 2 pots of water on to boil. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions, but take a few minutes off the cooking time. (You want the pasta slightly underdone as they will continue to cook in the oven.) Place the cauliflower in the other pot and cook till soft.
- While the pasta and cauliflower are cooking. Put a small saucepan on a low heat and melt the butter. Add the flour, using a wooden spoon keep stirring for a minutes to cook out the flour. You want it to reach a sand like consistency.
- Add about a quarter of the milk to the pan, while continuing to stir until the sauce has thickened again. Continue to add the rest of the milk in quarter amounts, stirring and allowing thicken again each time.
- Once all the milk has been add, allow the sauce to simmer for 5 mins but keep stirring. (You don't want the sauce to reach its final consistency as it will continue to thicken in the oven, so keep it a little runny).
- Add ⅔ of the cheese, a pinch of salt and nutmeg, stir well and set a side.
- Once the cauliflower is ready, add the thyme and mash. Leave it as lumpy as you like, you could blend it if you prefer.Drain the pasta and mix well with the cauliflower and cheese sauce.
- Place the mixture in an over proof dish. Add the remaining cheese and a handful or 2 of panko crumbs.
- Place in the oven for 30 mins, until a crisp yummy topping has formed.
- Enjoy as a main or serve as a side.