The benign flavor and texture of cauliflower allows it to slip easily (and almost un-noticeably) into a batch of mac & cheese. The wee florets are fantastic topped with cheese sauce anyway, so why not combine the two? You can even cook cauliflower along with the pasta, drain them both and douse in cheese. If you want to be sleuthy about it, boil and puree the cauliflower, then stir it into the cheese sauce. It’s a great way to add body and substance to the cheese sauce while boosting veg.
Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower
1/2 lb. (250 g) dry macaroni, whole wheat rotini, small shells or other pasta
half a small cauliflower, separated into small florets
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 1/2 cups milk
2-3 cups grated old cheddar cheese, or any combination of cheeses you have in the fridge
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until it’s tender, adding the cauliflower florets about halfway through the cooking time. Drain well in a colander and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In the empty pot (no need to wash it out), melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir well with a whisk, cooking for a minute or so until the mixture starts to turn golden. Stir in the milk and bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. The sauce must reach a full boil in order for the flour to reach its full thickening potential. Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes, until the mixture is nice and thick.
Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese until it melts. Add salt to taste, then stir in the drained pasta and cauliflower. Serves 4-6.