July 09, 2011

Creamy Cauliflower Mac by Mark Bittman

The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better LivingWith all the talk of Kraft adding cauliflower to it's Macaroni & Cheese, it seems like a good time to try to make cauliflower mac & cheese (without the box). I like this recipe by Mark Bittman.

Creamy Cauliflower Mac by Mark Bittman
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 45 minutes

(Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the baking dish
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 cauliflower, cored and separated into large pieces
8 ounces elbow, shell, ziti, or other cut pasta, preferably whole wheat
1 /2 cup grated cheese (like sharp cheddar, Gruyère, or Emmental or a combination)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, or to taste
1 /8 teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste
Black pepper
1 /4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 /2 cup or more bread crumbs, optional

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish with a little oil. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put the stock with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat and let stand.
  2. Cook the cauliflower in the boiling water until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Scoop the cauliflower out of the water with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a blender or food processor. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until still somewhat chalky inside and not yet edible, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the bay leaves from the stock. Carefully process the cauliflower with 2 cups of the stock, the 2 tablespoons oil, the cheese, mustard, nutmeg, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. (You may have to work in batches.) If the sauce seems too thick, add the remaining 1/2 cup stock. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour the sauce over the pasta, toss, and spread the mixture evenly in the dish. (You can make the dish to this point, cover, and refrigerate for up to a day; return to room temperature before proceeding.)
  4. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan and bread crumbs if you’re using them. Bake until the pasta is bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.
Less Creamy Cauliflower Mac: Cut the cored head of cauliflower in half instead of into large pieces. In Step 2, cook only half of the cauliflower until it’s very tender, then transfer it to the blender or food processor as described. Chop the remaining half of the cauliflower into large pieces and add them to the boiling water along with the pasta. Proceed with the recipe.

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