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Cheesy Pasta (Grety’s Mac and Cheese)

February 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments

IMG_2957 - Version 2 (1)

I bet you’re wondering why the header photo in this recipe is cauliflower…

I’m heading to a friend’s house for dinner later and I thought I’d bring a vegetarian offering with me.  This one was inspired by my little niece who lives in the Ancient Town of Rye, Sussex, England.  You can’t buy Kraft Dinner in the UK.  Go figure.  I thought that stuff was available in every corner of the world.  Apparently not.

My sister has tried offering Greta the home-made version, but she just won’t have it.  It’s just not that fluorescent orange version that she’s come to love when she visits Grandma and Grandad Mac in Canada.  Sheesh.  Every time we go to visit, we have to pack our cases with “the REAL cheesy pasta” for Greta.

This version is a “little” more healthy (and quite a bit more tasty to the adult taste buds).  I’m sure most kids would gobble it down without issue.  If they MUST have the “real” thing however, you might get a little “krafty” and sub the cauliflower here for roasted butternut squash, to give you that bright orange colour.  Shhhh.  I won’t tell anyone.

Yield: 6-7 Servings as a side, 4 Servings as a main course

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cook Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 heaping cups cauliflower florets (1 medium-large cauliflower)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 cup unsweetened and unflavoured almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 200g sharp cheddar (sub Daiya cheddar for vegan option)
  • sea salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 cups macaroni pasta (uncooked).  Sub brown rice macaroni for gluten-free.
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Add cauliflower florets in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a low boil. Once boiling, cook for another 5-7 minutes until fork tender. Drain.  If you want to have a bright orange mac and cheese, roast about 2 medium butternut squash for 30-40 minutes in the oven at 400F until tender.  Use this instead of cauliflower.
  2. Meanwhile, add the oil into a skillet and saute the onion over low heat for 4-5 minutes until translucent, but not browned.
  3. In a high-speed blender, add the cooked and drained cauliflower (or roasted squash), sautéed onion, milk, lemon juice, onion powder, and garlic powder. Blend until a super smooth sauce forms.  Set aside
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add your desired amount of pasta and boil for the time instructed on the package. Drain pasta.IMG_2961
  5. Pour the cauliflower sauce back into the pot. Heat over low-medium, adding 1/2 the cheddar cheese (or Daiya cheese).  Heat until the cheese has melted.IMG_2964
  6. Add the pasta and stir until the noodles are coated nicely.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Pour into a greased baking pan (I used a small lasagna pan greased lightly with olive oil). IMG_2968Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and panko bread crumbs (omit panko for gluten-free).  IMG_2972Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until the pan is bubbling.  Brown under the grill for the last few minutes for a crispy top (make sure you watch it so as not to burn).

If you prefer a non-baked silky version of the pasta, omit step 6 and just serve!  For a more “sophisticated” mac and cheese, you can sub out 1/2 cup of non dairy milk for white wine (the alcohol will evaporate when you cook it off in the pot (and bake in the oven).  Also try experimenting with your favourite strong flavoured hard cheeses.IMG_2982

Bon Apetite!

 

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