Dec 12 2011

Winter Comfort: Garlic Mac n’ Cheese with a Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan Crust

Published by at 9:44 pm under American,Classics,Comfort Food

Childhood Favorite with a New Makeover 

It all started with a blue box, the go-to-dinner I had taught to make for myself and my sister , Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese. Yes, I’m talking about the powder cheese and classic elbow pasta. Of course, my palate has matured in the last couple decades, but I still have an affinity for this childhood favorite. Except now, I jazz it up with different shaped whole wheat or whole grain pastas like penne or farfalle, cheeses like gruyere or smoked gouda, surprise additions like broccoli or bacon, and crusty toppings like parmesan-panko or thinly sliced potatoes. My new twist on this classic, Garlic Mac n’ Cheese with a Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan Crust, is a recipe inspired by Rachael Ray’s use of cauliflower as a topping for a casserole dish. Thanks, Rach!

Garlic Mac n' Cheese with a Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan Crust

Garlic Mac n’ Cheese with a Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan Crust

Garlic Mac n’ Cheese with a Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan Crust Recipe


One whole garlic

One head of cauliflower

3 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1/4 cup parsley

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups of sharp white cheddar

Preheat oven to 425. Place the cloves of a whole garlic in a sauce pot with 1/2 cup of olive oil. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Remove cloves from oil and paste them by pressing down on them with a back of a spoon.  Cut cauliflower into small 1-2 inch florets and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Then take the garlic-infused oil and use 1/2 of it to dress the cauliflowers. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 25 minutes.

Bring water to boil for your pasta. Salt the water liberally, and add your pasta. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until it’s shy of al dente. Choose any short-cut pasta. I prefer penne for its tube like shape and how the cheese gets trapped in it.

In the meantime place a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add a the butter and after it melts whisk in the flour for about 1 minute. Then add the milk and continue whisking for another minute. This mixture is called a béchamel sauce and can be used as a base for lasagna and fettucini Alfredo as well.  Now, add the dijon, pasted garlic, nutmeg, and continue whisking as you bring the heat down to low. Finally, fold in your shredded cheddar with figure eight motions using a wooden spoon. Once the cheese has melted,  toss it with your pasta. Place  the mac n’ these in individual size roasting dishes, ramekins, or one large baking dish depending on how you are entertaining.

Take your roasted cauliflower and toss it with some fresh finely chopped parsley, some fine parmesan cheese, and the rest of the garlic-infused oil. Place a layer of cauliflower on top of the mac n’ cheese covering all of it. Place it under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes, keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Once it’s brown and bubbly take it out of the oven. Let it rest for a couple minutes before serving.

Bon Appetit!


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