Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower

come to momma!

diggggggg in bebe

I was at my sister-in-law’s house the other weekend perusing her latest issue of Real Simple.
Holy mother!! The Mac & Cheese on the front cover seduced me hardcore.
I was on a mission to make this- and boy was I happy I did.

choppin cauliflower

Finding a way to make Mac & Cheese APPEAR healthy is all right with me!
The cauliflower added a nice dimension to the macaroni and I loved the topping.
Husband approved too!

Now tell me, who doesn’t enjoy a golden crust? I think next time I might add more cauliflower and less macaroni. Momma’s gotta be healthy after all!

mac & cheese with cauliflower

Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower
(recipe adapted from Real Simple Magazine)

-12 oz multigrain elbow macaroni
-1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
-4 slices multigrain bread, torn
-1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-kosher salt & black pepper
-1 onion, finely chopped
-1 1/2 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
– 1 1/2 cup reduced fat sour-cream
-1/2 cup 1 % milk
-1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
-splash of cayenne pepper (my addition)
-splash of garlic powder (another addition)

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking time, drain.

2. Meanwhile, pulse the bread in a food processor until course crumbs form. Add the parsley, 2 tablespoons of oil, splash of garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt & pepper. Pulse to combine, set aside.

3. Return pasta pot to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in the pasta, cauliflower, cheese, sour cream, milk and mustard.

4. Transfer to a shallow 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

  • Amanda

    wow, looks good.. Im impressed that it looks good and tastes good too… I made a mac and cheese from Martha with butternut squash hidden in the cheese sauce and it was SO gross.. I thought that I would health up the mac and cheese too but it backfired, I think the squash was too over powering, it looked realllly good but tasted pretty nasty. Maybe ill have to try it with the cauliflower though!

  • Michelle

    This sounds soooo amazing. Cheese and cauliflower is the best combination!

  • Val

    Did you save me some? lol. Have you tried the Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Tart? If you haven’t…I would say it’s a must!! : )

  • Rachel

    I just opened my Feb 2009 issue of Sunset and there your blog is on the Readers page! Congratulations, that’s so cool!!!

  • The Q

    I just made this recipe for my lunches this week and am LOVING it! Thanks!

  • Sophie

    Nice pictures! Cauliflower is such a natural friend to cheese that I bet this tastes divine. Yours/Real Simple Magazine’s recipe is really similar to mine – crunchy wholegrain breadcrumbs seem to work really well as a Mac and cheese topping.

  • sarah

    i had major problems with this recipe : ( maybe my baking dish was too small and overcrowded? it was totally watery and not delicious. so disappointing… did you have any problems with tons of extra liquid, maybe from the cauliflower?

    • Tracy

      Sarah- Oh no! The only thing I can think is that there might have been too much pasta water left in the noodles or some really wet cauliflower! I am so sorry it didn’t work out for you! Mine didn’t have any issues with being to liquidy! Hopefully you’ll try it again, and the result will be perfect!

  • maija

    Excellent – glad to hear the good review. This has been on my list of things to cook after I “borrowed” this magazine from my mom. The turkey-spinach meatloaf & mashed potatoes w/buttermilk in this same issue are also super delicious (and bonus healthy-versions!) – I’ve made them twice already! This may just be dinner tonight. I love the efficiency of cooking the pasta & cauliflower in the same pot.

  • Deb

    Dear Tracy,

    Hello! Long time reader, first time commenter. I made this recipe tonight–because, hello, choux fleur is finally in season here in Philly, but really I made it for my father. I used 4 individual gratin dishes, and I won’t lie (but I also won’t expound upon this b/c it doesn’t matter and either way, your recipes are awesome), I changed a few things up, but wow I am happy and I know that 2 adorable portioned servings will make my dad happy. He taught he how to make mac and cheese, after all. I think he will really appreciate the veg-deliciousness this one brings, and like me, the pretty, tasty bread crumbs (which I made out of the frozen bread ends of Pullman loaves I made a month ago and not the healthier whole grain thing; this time economy trumped health, sue me).

    In sum, thank you for helping me feed my very lovable father.


  • Bethany

    Hey, quick question for you: any thoughts on freezing this dish? I’m newish to cooking (I’ve made like 6 of your recipes in the last week, though!) I just don’t know if if would be good if I were to freeze it and re-heat it, and I don’t know how long the frozen dish would cook or anything. Any tips? Thanks! I cut this recipe in half and it was still way too much food for this little newly-wed couple! We have dinner plans for the next three days, and I would hate to see this go to waste.

    Also, I have to tell you how much we loved this meal. It tasted so light (not like your typical mac & cheese) but it was so filling and every bit as comforting as regular mac… maybe more so. Oh, and a note – I didn’t have sour cream, so I used Greek yogurt instead, and it was fantastic!

    • Tracy

      Freezing it should be fine! When you heat it up, maybe add a little bit of moisture. How do you heat it up? Microwave or oven? I’ll help you brainstorm.

  • Aubrey

    Hi Tracy!
    I am hoping to make this dish for a healthy cooking competition at the school I teach at. Do you happen to know how many servings this recipe makes (I need to calculate nutrition information).

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