I just scored the biggest “hidden vegetable” coup yet. I replaced the milk in traditional cheese sauce with a puree of cauliflower and onion, and the results were magnificent. Mild, cheesy, creamy. Kid-approved despite initial skepticism. Amounts are ballpark, and variations abound:
CAULIFLOWER MACARONI AND CHEESE
1 head of cauliflower, separated into florets
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 package shredded cheddar/jack (I used Tillamook)
1 16 oz. package of elbow macaroni
salt and nutmeg to taste
bread crumbs (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Cook the macaroni in salted water till al dente (err on the undercooked side as the pasta will cook some more in the oven).
Melt the butter over medium low in a deep skillet or shallow pot. Add cauliflower and onion and stew, covered, for 15 minutes (stir occasionally but do not let it brown). Barely cover with water and simmer for about 20 minutes, till vegetables are tender. Puree vegetables in a blender or food processor (you may need to drain off some of the water). Pour puree back into the pot, and add most of the package of cheese, reserving some to sprinkle over the top of the pasta. Season with salt and nutmeg.
(At this point, you could serve the “sauce” as soup. Think about that for another meal.)
Mix sauce with pasta, pour into a baking dish and top with the rest of the shredded cheese. A sprinkle of bread crumbs would be nice as well. Cover with foil and bake till heated through. I didn’t time mine, but I think it took at least 30 minutes. Finish in the broiler if you like crunchy goodness on top. YUM.
ALFREDO VARIATION: Instead of the cheddar/jack mixture, use parmesan, and add a bit of fresh garlic to the cauliflower/onion saute. Mix with cooked fettuccine and garnish with chopped parsley.
Next: I intend to throw cauliflower in with the potatoes for mashing. No one will suspect a thing.