Stealthy Macaroni & Cheese
Both of my children pronounced this dish delicious and asked for seconds. None of you had better tell them that a 9" square pan contains a whole head of cauliflower. Especially my 4-year-old, who last month pronounced that she hates cauliflower and that it "fills the air with stupidness."
I adapted this from a recipe in Runner's World that got some bad reviews. I think what the naysayers got wrong was to rinse the pasta - removing the starch which thickens the dish - and to use mild cheeses. I used the sharpest cheddar I had, and a good aged Romano, to good result.
2 c vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 large cauliflower, cored, cut into large pieces
8 oz Barilla Plus elbow macaroni
1/2 c grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and black pepper
1/4 c grated Romano cheese
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
Heat oven to 400° F.
Cook cauliflower in boiling water for 25 minutes (will be extremely soft). Drain; place in a food processor.
Meanwhile, par-cook pasta in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain; do not rinse. Place pasta in an oiled 9" square baking dish.
Bring stock to a boil in a saucepan with bay leaves. Discard bay leaves. Pour stock over cauliflower. Add cheddar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Process until smooth.
Pour sauce over pasta, toss, and spread evenly in dish. Mixture will be soupy. Top with Romano cheese and bread crumbs. Bake 25-30 minutes or until thick, browned and bubbling. Serves 6.