Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on June 10, 2011

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Every Sunday we gather for dinner at my mother-in-law’s. I make a point to read People magazine to catch up on my celebrity gossip. When I ran across the recipe for Caulifower “Mac ‘N’ Cheese” I knew I had to try it. It comes from MasterChef (reality show) winner Whitney Miller.

It turned out great. Little D and I really enjoyed it while my husband and Big A didn’t really partake (my husband is a mac and cheese purist). The recipe calls for heavy cream, which is an ingredient I never use — it’s the dietitian in me. But I worked up some courage and tried the recipe “as is.” Maybe I’ll get help from the Meal Makeover Moms to lighten it up a bit.

This inspired me to search for other cauliflower mac and cheese recipes that actually have macaroni in them. Here are a couple that look good: Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower from Real Simple and Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese from Shape Magazine.

Anyone else making something like this at home?

Ingredients:
-8 cups cauliflower florets (1 head)
-2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 tsp Kosher salt
-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
-2 Tbsp butter
-2 Tbsp flour
-1.5 cups fat-free milk
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1/4 tsp table salt
-1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (reduced fat optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400. Toss florets in oil (and garlic if using) on a baking sheet (I prefer to mix in a sealed bag first). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until fork-tender and lightly browned, 25 minutes. Remove pan from oven and reduce to 350.

2. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Whisk in cream and cook 5 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat and stir in 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and all but 2 Tbsp cheese. Stir over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

4. Place cauliflower in an 8X8-in glass baking dish. Pour cheese sauce on top and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. cheese. Bake until sauce is bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Niki June 10, 2011 at 9:41 am

Great recipe! When I make this I leave out the heavy cream, increase the milk accordingly, and add a little extra flour to help thicken it up–it’s not quite as creamy, so if you’re a big texture person maybe just reduce it? or use half-and-half? Also, I use onion salt instead of regular salt for a little extra flavor. Thanks for sharing this!

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD June 10, 2011 at 10:01 am

Thanks Niki — will try that next time. Now I know how the original tastes so I can compare!

Jessica June 10, 2011 at 11:49 am

I make a homemade gluten free mac and cheese and last night I tweaked it by pureeing a can of great northern beans and adding it in. I’m still messing with the recipe, but I think I’m going to try subbing some of the sauce mixture for the beans. And I’ll rinse the beans before pureeing them, too. I always just use whole milk for my cheese sauce. The kids drink it and it’s here…I don’t want to know what mac and cheese tastes like with heavy cream, lol. ;) I may not be able to go back!

Jessica June 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm

The kids drink the whole milk…not the cheese sauce! :D

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD June 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Jessica — would love to get that recipe once you get it where you like it. I think beans can go in anything!!

diaperbaglady June 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Wow! What an interesting looking recipe! My kids actually love cauliflower…but steamed with a little salt can get boring after a while. My kids love mac and cheese…so maybe I’ll try putting them all together with this dish. We don’t really do a lot of dairy in my house…so I wonder how it will taste when I substitute cow’s milk for soy milk? Only one way to find out! Thanks for a great recipe!

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD June 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I’m sure the soy milk will be fine. Let me know how it turns out!

Cath the Canberra Cook June 13, 2011 at 10:28 pm

I’ve eaten a dish like this pretty much all my life. My Mum called it simply “cauliflower cheese”, and if you google that you’ll get lots of results.

Classically we steam the cauliflower and don’t use garlic, and use whole milk rather than the skim milk & cream combo. I like the idea of roasting it, though.

Allison June 14, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Have you tried this recipe from Cooking Light? My daughter and I liked it (though she won’t eat it now, because she now knows it has cauliflower in it!). I had forgotten about it, until reading your post. I’ll try it again for my 21-month old.

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cauliflower-pasta-cheese-gratin-10000000222378/print/

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD June 15, 2011 at 7:35 am

Looks great. Will add it to the list!

Christine June 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I’m trying this recipe this weekend. On the advice of my trainer, I’m substituting nonfat greek yogurt thinned with NF milk for the heavy cream.

lowcarbnewbiechef January 4, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I cooked this tonight and it is absolutely delicious. I am trying to engage in a low-carb lifestyle and enjoy cooking, especially to find new recipes. For some reason I ended up with a lot more of a sauce rather than a cheese with this recipe so I plan to cut it down. I also would like to switch out of heavy cream and maybe use a little bit of silken tofu and greek yogurt or maybe just milk and the tofu. Anyways, I also realized that the cauliflower needs to seriously be a lot softer than I had it. Basically, my “noodles” were al dente. I recommend making sure you roast the cauliflower longer if you use frozen, like I did, and just check it until it’s ready. I think it would also be appropriate to cut down the heavy cream from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup and then also decrease the milk to 1 1/4 cups instead of 1 1/2 cups. I’m not sure how or if I will adjust measurements when substituting with silken tofu/yogurt/etc but I will play around with this as mac and cheese is my absolute favorite food.

Lan April 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

Just made this and it’s Amazing! I didn’t use heavy cream. I used 2 cups soy milk and added another Tbs of flour. Thanks so much for the recipe.

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