Ohhh man. Oh. Man. This stuff…this stuff is good.
Have you seen this creamy cauliflower sauce from the mega-genius (Lindsay) over at Pinch of Yum? It’s so much magic she even made an ebook of all the things one can do with it.
So today, I’d thought I’d take a crack at my own creamy cauliflower magical creation. And you’re going to be so glad I did!
Let me be clear here: mac and cheese is serious business in our house. It’s easily one of John’s favorite dinners. Usually we go traditional, starting with a béchamel sauce and adding about 2 blocks of grated cheese…oops. And honestly, even then I sometimes feel like it’s not creamy enough.
And then all of a sudden this guy happened!
Basically, we’re replacing that béchamel with a cauliflower puree – but not just any old cauliflower puree. It’s seasoned with garlic, sage, and some butter among other friends. I got a little crazy and threw in some heavy cream, because whatever. It was delicious.
I used less than half the amount of cheese and butter I usually use for my best mac and cheese, and sacrificed nothing. The texture is so creamy, and the flavor is so there. Toasted bread crumbs on top tie the whole thing together, so don’t skip them!
CREAMY CAULIFLOWER MAC AND CHEESE
Inspired by Pinch of Yum’s Creamy Cauliflower Sauce
1 head cauliflower
3 cups vegetable stock
6 cups water
2 tbsp. butter
8 whole cloves garlic
3 sage leaves
1/2 cup cream (or whole milk)
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 lb. pasta, shells or pipe rigate recommended
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. In a large pot, bring the vegetable stock and water to a boil. Roughly break or chop the cauliflower into florets about 2 inches wide. Boil the cauliflower until easily pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon and add to a food processor fitted with a steal blade.
While the cauliflower cooks, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, and once it has melted, add the garlic cloves. Sauté the garlic for 2-3 minutes, careful not to let them brown. Add the sage leaves and cook for another 2-3 minutes, making sure the garlic does not brown. Add the garlic, sage, and all the butter to the food processor.
Add 1 cup of the vegetable stock-water mixture and the cream to the food processor. Run the food processor for a few minutes until the mixture becomes very smooth. Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed, and add any more liquid to reach your desired texture.
While the food processor runs, add the pasta to the same stock-water mixture the cauliflower cooked in. Cook until just past al dente.
Once the sauce is done, move to a baking dish. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar cheese until it is evenly distributed and starts to melt. Fold in the cooked pasta until well combined. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.
Mix the bread crumbs and olive oil in a small up. The mixture should be moist, but not wet. Evenly spread the breadcrumbs over the top of the mac and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Enjoy immediately, or let cool and reheat when ready to serve.