National Mac and Cheese Day

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

About Cathy Burnham Martin

Author of 20+ books, and counting! A professional voice-over artist, dedicated foodie, and lifelong corporate communications geek, Cathy Burnham Martin has enjoyed a highly eclectic career, ranging from the arts and journalism to finance, telecommunications, and publishing. Along with her husband, Ron Martin, she has passions for entertaining, gardening, volunteering, active and visual arts, GREAT food, and traveling. Cathy often says, "I believe that we all should live with as much contagious enthusiasm as possible... Whether we're with friends or family, taking people along for the ride is more than half the fun."
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