I love mac & cheese, but I just can’t get down with all that pasta. After the success (and deliciousness) of the Cauliflower and Ham Gratin, I knew I had to put cauliflower to use in a take on mac & cheese.
Yes, this is the real thing. I cut mine up before I got a chance to snap a pic.
To make my cauliflower version, I used Alton Brown’s recipe, but tweaked it. I think my version is superior because the addition of spinach and chicken sausage make it a heartier, protein-rich dish. Oh, and it’s gluten-free! See below for my changes:
You’ll need (makes ~6-8 servings):
1/2 pound elbow macaroni2 heads cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk2 cups half and half mixed with cream
1/2 cup1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces2ish cups sharp cheddar, shredded, 1ish cup Monterey Jack
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh black pepper
- Add: 4-5 cups baby spinach
- Add: 1 package (5 links) pre-cooked roasted garlic chicken sausage, sliced
- Add to taste: crushed red pepper, basil, oregano
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs1 cup almond meal seasoned with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper
This is where Alton and I totally diverge, so I’ll just give you my method.
Combine the cauliflower, sausage, and spinach in a large bowl. Then, melt butter in a large sauce pan. Stir in the onion, half and half/cream, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese melts. Season well with salt, pepper, etc.
Add the cauliflower, sausage, and spinach to the sauce and coat well, then pour into a large casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and then sprinkle with almond meal. You could use Alton’s method of tossing the almond meal in butter before you add it, but I didn’t think the dish needed more richness.
Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes (covered), then another 10-15 minutes uncovered, or until the cauliflower is tender.