Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mac & Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower and Leeks

So 2014 has started very rough in my family. My mom is sick in the hospital with pneumonia, my beloved dog Mose was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and I have had that deep-in-your-chest cough for 2 weeks. Not good. Between bouts of coughing, crying jags and sleepless nights I find myself doing what I always do during times of stress...Cooking. And, right now, comfort food is all I want to think about. Mac & Cheese, here I come.

My favorite memories revolve around conversations at the dinner table.  Growing up we had a family dinner every night. My mom cooked massive homemade dinners, we sat at the dining room table and talked about our day. There is still nothing better to me than family or friends eating, talking and laughing together. And, during the tough times, this feeling of normalcy is just what I need.

This recipe is adapted from the January 2013 edition of Bon Appetit Magazine. They share a recipe for "No-Boil Mac and Cheese". Brilliant really in that the uncooked pasta is covered with the cheese sauce and then baked in the oven. Really easy and delicious. I copied the technique exactly so all credit goes to them, but I lightened it up a bit and added roasted cauliflower and sauteed leeks for flavor and whole wheat pasta and panko for the health benefits. Wonderful as a main dish with a green salad or the perfect side dish to roasted salmon or chicken.  Try this recipe...comfort food at its best. Enjoy!

Mac & Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower and Leeks
adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2013
(serves 4)
1 head cauliflower, separated into florets then cut into quarters
extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, cleaned and chopped, white and light green parts
1/8 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (from dairy case not canned)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 lb whole wheat pasta, I like chiocciole shape but shells or elbow macaroni works well too
1 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup whole wheat panko
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place cauliflower on prepared sheet, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and a large pinch each salt and pepper. Using your hands, turn cauliflower in oil until covered. Roast in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until beginning to brown and caramelize. Remove from oven and set aside. Do not turn off oven.

Add 2 tbsp olive oil to large saucepan over medium high heat. Add leeks and saute for 4 minutes until beginning to soften. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute. Whisk in the coconut milk and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Stir in red pepper flakes, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Remove from heat.

Add pasta to rimmed, deep dish pie plate. Add roasted cauliflower and 1 cup cheese and stir to combine. Pour sauce over pasta mixture ensuring pasta is totally submerged. Do not stir. Cover tightly with foil and bake until pasta is almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in saucepan used to make sauce, add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add garlic and panko and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. 

Remove dish from oven. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and then panko mixture. Add back to oven and bake for 10-15 minutes longer. Pasta should be "al dente", cheese bubbling and panko topping golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes, then serve.

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It is "Mac & Cheese" week at Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends.  Have a favorite mac & cheese recipe of your own? Please share in the comments section of this post.  

Feed Me Phoebe: Jalapeno-Scallion Mac n Cheese
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Triple Cheese Chicken Pasta Bake
Dishing With Divya: Baked Mediterranean Macaroni and Cheese
Weelicious: Green Mac and Cheese
The Heritage Cook: Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese
Taste With The Eyes: Macaroni and Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Gravy
Red or Green: Mac & Cheese with Tuna and Green Chiles
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Mac & Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower and Leeks
Virtually Homemade: Ham and Cheese Mac and Cheese Bites
Domesticate Me: Skinny Mac with Cauliflower Cheese Sauce and Chicken Sausage
The Sensitive Epicure: Cauliflower 'n Cheese (Gluten-Free)
Devour: Mix-Ins for Macaroni and Cheese
From My Corner of Saratoga: Queso Mac and Cheese
FN Dish: 10 Ways to Make Mac and Cheese

napa farmhouse 1885

I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.


Emily @ Words I Wheel By said...

Oh, this sounds delicious! Glad I got to come by from SITS to see this so I can try!

Holly @ My Plant-Based Family said...

I love putting cauliflower in my mac and cheese! Except my son is allergic to dairy and wheat so I sure the cauliflower into the sauce. It's nice and creamy!

Ginnie said...

Mmm ... this sounds so delicious! I love the idea of adding cauliflower to lighten it up a bit. P.S. I'm part of your SITS Girls Comment Love Tribe:)

Mommy Travels said...

I love mac and cheese. This one looks great.