Apple cauliflower mac and cheese may, at first glance, seem a bit strange. It was born from my need to get more vegetables into Q, my picky eater. He loves mac and cheese like no other- so I had the idea to hide a small head of cauliflower in the cheese sauce. He was none the wiser! Grated apples on top is our healthy alternative to breadcrumbs, and it does give a little extra tart punch. This is a vegetable dish that is sure to please even the pickiest palate.
Boil salted water and cook the pasta to the package instruction. Drain and set aside.
Steam the cauliflower in a pot with a small amount of water until it is tender. Then transfer to a food processor to puree. I like to keep mine a little chunky, if you want it really smooth you will need to add a few tablespoons of water.
While the pasta is cooking whip up a quick bechamel. Heat the butter in the pan and add the flour. Equal parts. Cook out the raw flour flavor for a minute or so. Add in milk or cream, depending on how decadent you are feeling. It’s best if you have the cream slightly heated, it works in better. That said I have be know, on occasion, to just throw in cold milk. It’s never been a catastrophe. Once the mixture comes close to a boil it will thicken. Add in the cheese in any combination you like. Gruyere is my most beloved, but cheddar and parmesan is Q’s favorite. Stir until the cheese is melted, then season to taste. Stir in the Cauliflower.
Cover the pasta with the cheese sauce, then transfer to an oven proof dish. Top with grated apple and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Let the dish cool for 10 minutes before serving.
- 8 ounces of pasta
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into floretes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups cream or milk
- 1½ cup grated cheddar cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg, fresh grated is best
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 green apple, grated
- Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package.
- Steam the cauliflower in a pot with shallow water until it is tender. Transfer to a food processor to mash- or use a fork or potato masher.
- Melt the butter and stir in the flour.
- Whisk to combine, then cook for 1 minute.
- Add the warm milk or cream and whisk.
- Wait for the milk to come back to the boil and thicken, turn the heat to low and add the cheese.
- Stir with a wooden spoon until melted and combined.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the nutmeg.
- Stir in the cauliflower, then spoon over pasta.
- Top with shredded apple and bake at 375º for 15 minutes.