Smoky Cauli-power Mac & Cheese
By Chef Andrew Farrell, Chef de Cuisine
2 Doors Down Food + Wine, Halifax NS
The rich and earthy flavour of roasted cauliflower and mushrooms highlights the robust flavours of smoky Cheddar and creamy Blue cheese in this silky and unstoppably delicious mac and cheese.
Preparation Time: 35 minutes
Baking Time: 12 minutes
Cooking time: about 15 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1 large or 2 small heads of cauliflower
1 lb (500 g) cremini mushrooms
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 tbsp (60mL) canola oil, divided
2 cups (500 mL) shredded Cow’s Creamery extra-old Cheddar cheese or other Canadian aged Cheddar, divided
1 lb (500 g) elbow macaroni
1 cup (250 mL) panko breadcrumbs
1 onion, diced
½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 mL) Marmite (yeast extract)
½ tsp (2 mL ground nutmeg
2 cups (500 mL) whole milk
1 cup (250 mL) 35% whipping cream
2½ cups (625 mL) shredded Cow’s Creamery Appletree Smoked Cheddar cheese or other smoked Canadian Cheddar
1 cup (250 mL) crumbled Urban Blue cheese or other mild creamy Canadian Blue cheese
1. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
2. Trim cauliflower stem so it sits flat on cutting board; cut into thirds vertically (you will have two outside parts and one piece with core still attached). Grate outside pieces on a box grater and measure 3 cups (750 mL). Cut the middle piece of cauliflower into skinny florets, measure 2 cups (500 mL). Set aside grated cauliflower and place florets in large mixing bowl.
3. Using your hands, tear mushrooms into bite-size chunks, stem and all. Add to bowl with cauliflower florets; toss with salt, pepper, 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the canola oil, breadcrumbs and ½ cup (125 mL) of aged Cheddar. Spread mixture on a non-stick or foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until browned; set aside
4. In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Drain and rinse lightly; set aside.
5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to high broil. Heat large, heavy bottomed pot on medium-high heat. When pot is hot enough that a water droplet evaporates quickly, add remaining oil, grated cauliflower, onion and salt and pepper. Do not stir for the first 1 minute of cooking. Sauté, until cauliflower is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add butter and garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring and scraping up any bits stuck to bottom of the pot.
6. Reduce heat to medium and add cornstarch, mustard, Marmite and nutmeg. Stirring well, slowly whisk in milk and whipping cream; bring sauce to simmer. Remove from heat. With an immersion blender, carefully puree until smooth. Stir in remaining aged Cheddar, smoked Cheddar and Blue cheese; return to heat. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove sauce from heat and stir in pasta.
7. Place baking sheet with cauliflower mixture on the top rack in the oven and broil until mixture is crispy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Place cheesy cauliflower pasta in serving bowls and top with crispy cauliflower and mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with chives and enjoy.
Variation: Place cheesy cauliflower pasta in a buttered 13×9-inch (3 L) glass baking dish. Top with roasted cauliflower and mushroom mixture, chives and an additional ½ cup (125 mL) each of shredded aged Cheddar cheese and smoked Cheddar cheese. Bake in preheated 375°F (190°C) oven until cheese is melted and cauliflower is deep brown but not burnt, about 10 to 12 minutes.