Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Healthy Mac & Cheese!

...and cauliflower.  But seriously, before you stop right there - its seriously delish!  Give it a shot, please?

 Looks yummy and cheesy and good, right?  Right.  Homemade Mac & Cheese is one of my absolute favorite dishes, and while this doesn't quite measure up to my Dad's recipe, topped with Ritz crackers, its a pretty damn good second place.

 I saw a recipe in People Magazine while reading over a lady's shoulder on the train the other day, and thought it would be a good idea to try out mac & cheese with cauliflower.  But when I googled the recipe (you can find it here, here, and on various blogs around the web) - by Masterchef winner Whitney Miller, I saw that it used heavy cream, and a lot of cheese, so I wanted to try to lighten it up myself.  I found this recipe from Shape Magazine which I used for a template, but it seemed a little fussy...so anyway, here is my take on it. 

Serves 4 - Prep time 20 minutes - Cooking time 35 minutes

*1 bag frozen cauliflower (16 oz/1 lb)
*1/2 cup whole wheat macaroni
*1 small onion, diced
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*2 cups nonfat milk
*2 tbsp butter
*2 tbsp flour
*3/4 cup reduced fat cheese (I used mozzerella)
*2 tbsp pepper sauce, like Frank's
*2 tbsp Dijon mustard
*salt & pepper to taste
*2 tbsp grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
*cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Fill a large pot with water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Cook cauliflower for 2 minutes.  Scoop out with a slotted spoon, rinse with cold water in a colander.  Set aside.  
Add macaroni to boiling water and cook until al dente.  Drain, and add to cauliflower.  Set aside.

While macaroni cooks, heat small saute pan over low heat, and coat with cooking spray.  Add minced garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.  Add onion, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter.  Whisk in flour until smooth and cook for 2 minutes.  Whisk in milk; cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until mixture begins to simmer.  Add mustard, pepper sauce, salt and pepper and stir until smooth. 

While milk mixture is cooking, coat 12x10 inch ovenproof dish with cooking spray.  Place cauliflower/macaroni mix in dish, stirring to make sure macaroni and cauliflower are evenly distributed.  Sprinkle with half of shredded cheese and set aside.

After milk mixture begins to simmer lightly, add half of shredded cheese and whisk until smooth.  Pour this over cauliflower and macaroni evenly.  Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling and just beginning to brown. 

Let cool for a few minutes and serve.  Hope you like it!  You can adjust the spices to your liking, or even add more veggies to fill it out - a great dinner!  Well, maybe not for 80+ degree days, but still a solid meal :)

Let me know what you think, or if you have any questions about my recipe! 


  1. i'm a HUGE fan of the mac'n'C!
    Cauliflower? I would have instinctively always gone for it's bright green cousin Broccoli ... i'd need to actually COOK FOR MYSELF, first, to give it a try, but I am now, at least, open to this new style's existence :)

  2. Broccoli would be a total bonus for this recipe! The cauliflower blends in nicely with the mac - perhaps tricking a picky eater along the way, but adding more tasty veggies is always a good move!