Don’t be scared of my untraditional mac & cheese recipe, it’s really good, I swear! The cauliflower lightens it up and gives the sharp cheeses some sweetness and the cumin along with a ton of garlic, red pepper flakes and brown sugar give it some nice complexity that keeps your tongue guessing. This is not a one pan meal but it’s totally worth the extra steps. I use penne pasta but use whatever is your favorite.
Break cauliflower down and, in a 450 degree oven, roast in olive oil with salt on a sheet pan until soft and browned. In a large sauce pan on medium heat, sauté the garlic, onion and mushrooms with salt until all is soft and glistening. Mix in the parsley, brown sugar, pepper flakes and cumin. Add in the cooked cauliflower and mix until all seasonings are coating the cauliflower.
Cook the pasta in salted water, drain, salt and set aside.
8-10 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
1 ½ heads of cauliflower, roasted and salted
3 tsp cumin (or more depending on your taste)
3 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 pints button mushrooms, sautéed in olive oil and salt
1 tbsp parsley
1 ½ bags of penne pasta, cooked in salted water and drained
In a saucepan on medium heat, melt and whisk together 4 tbsp salted butter and flour until it forms a creamy paste. Slowly whisk in room temperature or slightly warm milk, whisk rapidly until combined. Add the cheeses, whisking continuously then turn off heat and let the cheese melt in the sauce whisking occasionally. Whisk in the salt, garlic powder and black pepper.
4 tbsp salted butter
4 tbsp flour
3 cups room temperature or warm milk
1 cup each (to equal 4 cups) :
Sharp white cheddar
Gruyere cheddar combo cheese or an extra cup of the above cheeses if you can’t find that.
1 ¼ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
Fresh black pepper, at least 8 or 9 turns of the pepper mill
Putting it all together:
Cut into chunks 1/3 cup of each cheese and set aside.
Bread crumbs for sprinkling on top
Parmesan to shave over bread crumbs
In a large glass cake pan or metal is fine if that’s what you have, about 10×16 inches, combine the pasta and cauliflower mixture. Add the cheese chunks and mix together well. Pour in the cheese sauce and mix well. Sprinkle the top abundantly with bread crumbs and finely shave good parmesan over the top to brown the bread crumbs.
Bake at 400 degrees for about ten or fifteen minutes until it’s bubbly, browned and melty. Serve warm!