I have been watching a lot of British chefs on the Food Network lately. Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver have kind of taken over my TV. I love cooking shows, but they are even better when the hosts speak in lovely British accents (though I have to say it is really weird not hearing Gordon Ramsay drop a dozen f-bombs every half hour - his cookery course show is much cleaner than his others!). If you need me, I'll be practicing British cooking terms - like "spring onions" and "double cream" - in a terrible accent.
This cauliflower mac and cheese was inspired by Jamie Oliver's version from his cookbook Meals in Minutes. I kept wanting to make his version but forgetting to get crème fraîche and pancetta at the grocery store, so I just put together my own. I realize that this isn't technically mac and cheese, since I used fusilli and not macaroni, but if you're a stickler for that stuff, just sub in the elbow macaroni and you'll be good to go.
I actually really love the cauliflower in this dish. It accented the mac and cheese well without being at all overwhelming, and added really great texture too. It's a good way to get vegetables on the table, especially in a dish that is so cheese and carb heavy (not that there's anything wrong with that!). I know I'll be making this version a lot in the future, since it's so tasty and barely any more difficult than just making the mac and cheese on its own.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
- 1 small head of cauliflower
- 4 cups of fusilli
- 4 cups of grated aged cheddar cheese
- 1 (370 mL) can of unsweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Wash the cauliflower, remove the leaves, and chop the cauliflower into large chunks. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and add the fusilli and cauliflower. Cook until the fusilli is done. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and cauliflower and return it all to the pot.
Add the cheddar cheese, condensed milk, heavy cream and reserved pasta water to the pot. Stir everything together and mash the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces as you stir. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the pasta into the greased baking dish. Top the pasta with the mozzarella and the panko breadcrumbs. Drizzle olive oil over the breadcrumbs to help them toast up nicely. Bake the pasta for 10-15 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cheese sauce is hot and bubbly. Serve immediately and enjoy!
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