We all have our favorite renditions of this all-American classic. But for the summer, I go for gooey, cheesy, and yet light, by replacing pasta with cauliflower florets. Feel free to use macaroni instead. You can also add a super crunchy topping of toasty, buttered breadcrumbs.
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Extraordinaire
1 large head cauliflower, cut in florets (5-6 c)
2 T olive oil
½ tsp garlic powder & salt & pepper, to suit your taste
1 c heavy cream
6 oz (½ c) cream cheese, softened & cut in chunks
4 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ tsp sweet paprika
1 T Frank’s Red-Hot Sauce (regular, not Buffalo), optional
Topping: ¼ c shredded Parmesan cheese & 2-3 T crushed pork rinds (any flavor)
Garnish: 2 T chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley
Toss florets with oil; season with garlic powder, salt & pepper. Spread in single layer on parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets; roast 15-20 min at 450°F. Meanwhile, warm cream over medium heat in large pot. Reduce heat & stir in cream cheese and cheddar till melted. Remove from heat and stir in paprika & hot sauce, if using. Stir in any mix-ins, as desired.) Then gently stir in roasted florets and transfer to well-buttered 9×13” baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan and crushed pork rinds. Bake 15-20 min at 375°F. Let stand 10 min at room temp, garnish with parsley, and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.
Mix-in ideas (choose 1 or a combo):
½ c chunky salsa
1 c raw, trimmed baby spinach leaves
½ c chopped, cooked bacon
½ c baby peas
½ – 1 c sliced mushrooms, sautéed mushrooms
½ c chopped onion, caramelized or microwaved till crisp-tender
2 c coarsely diced lobster (or shrimp)
2 c shredded rotisserie chicken
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