Some people collect shoes, postcards or buttons. I collect recipes for homemade macaroni and cheese. My collection includes recipes using different kinds of cheeses, and recipes with special add-ins, like smokey oven roasted tomatoes or chipotle chilies. But until recently, I had never tried a recipe in which the macaroni and cheese sauce was a blend of dairy and puréed vegetable (cauliflower to be precise).
I don't eat a lot of cauliflower, but the photo at Food Blogga was so tempting that I decided to give it a try. And, I'm really glad I did. Just as the photo promised, the recipe resulted in a creamy mac and cheese with a nice, crunchy topping, just the way homemade macaroni and cheese should be. And, no, it didn't taste like cauliflower. Instead, the mac and cheese had a good cheddar flavor, with a slight hint of Doritos (due to the addition of southwestern-style seasonings).
The recipe is pretty straightforward. Cooked cauliflower is puréed with a little milk, which results in a creamy white mixture that reminded me of thin mashed potatoes. The puréed cauliflower is then added, along with cheddar cheese and seasonings, to a roux of butter, flour and milk, to create the cheese sauce. Cooked pasta is stirred into the sauce, and the entire mixture is dumped into a buttered baking dish. After receiving a topping of bread crumbs (I used panko) and cheddar cheese, the dish goes into the oven to cook for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.
I strayed from the original recipe in three minor ways. First, I couldn't find the orange cauliflower that Food Blogga used, and so I substituted white. If you can find orange cauliflower, you should use it, because it contains more vitamin A than regular cauliflower and will enhance your dish's color. Second, I used real butter instead of butter substitute. Third, because I was using panko, I didn't bother to blend the breadcrumbs with butter.
Although Food Blogga stated that the recipe would create four servings, I somehow wound up with six. Not that I'm complaining! Now, I have macaroni and cheese (with a built-in vegetable) to eat throughout the week...