Monday, 8 October 2012

Meat Free Monday: Cauliflower macaroni cheese

Macaroni cheese is good - but often feels a bit too heavy, a bit too rich. Cauliflower cheese is good - but doesn't seem like a meal on its own. It seems odd that it has taken me this long to realise that you can combine them.

I was inspired by Mary's delicious-looking dish of Baked Shells with Cauliflower and Cheese, which in turn was inspired by a Moosewood recipe. I didn't follow the recipe at all, possibly an error of judgement, I just cooked the pasta, added the cauliflower florets for the last couple of minutes and the shredded leaves of the cauliflower for the last 30 seconds, then drained them and covered them in cheese sauce.

That's right - the cauliflower leaves. Last year some friends of ours grew cauliflowers and discovered that when very fresh the leaves are tasty. The cauliflower I had was enclosed in lovely fresh leaves, so I just discarded the outermost ones and shredded the inner ones.

There should have been a higher ratio of cauliflower to macaroni
I used the Heston Blumenthal cheese sauce method, using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, but for the first time the sauce didn't really come together for me - leaving melted cheesy lumps in a thin cheesy broth. I think it may have been because I used some grated cheddar and mozzarella mixture as part of the cheese component; I suspect it was the mozzarella that didn't play along with the sauce.
 

Since it was just for the two of us, I used the sauce anyway. And the finished product didn't seem to suffer for it at all! That method of making cheese sauce leaves you with a much lighter dish, and with the cauliflower florets and leaves, it actually felt like a complete meal. I am quite keen to try the original Moosewood recipe too, although I probably won't bother seeking out those jumbo shells for it.


10 comments:

Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez said...

Well, it looks pretty cheesy and amazing, I'd say.

Barbara said...

I love Mary's blog too! This looks wonderful. Never knew about using cauliflower leaves.

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

Yep, I often feel like macaroni cheese can be a bit too heavy and crave some greens to go with it. Love that you added both cauliflower florets AND leaves!

The Café Sucré Farine said...

What a delicious way to sneak in a some extra nutrition! Looks delish!

Foodycat said...

Heather - it certainly was cheesy!

Barbara - they have a very good flavour.

Leafy - makes it much more balanced.

Chris - thank you!

Faux Fuchsia said...

am so making this!

Simona said...

Glad you discovered the tender cauliflower leaves: I like them too! Besides the flavor, I think they also add a nice touch of color to the dish.

Joanne said...

This dish is the perfect way to indulge, but not too much! Best of both worlds. :P

grace said...

i love mozzarella in my mac & cheese--the end game here looks scrumptious!

Caroline said...

Wow, that looks stunning. I'm a sucker for anything cheesy and pasta based. Will have to bookmark this one to try ASAP.

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