Cauliflower macaroni and cheese

June 14, 2010 § 3 Comments

The fine art of turning odds and ends into a meal is a challenge that I work on constantly, and I’m probably not alone in struggling to finish up, say, half a cauliflower and one cup of ricotta cheese. It’s not just using up the odds and ends, which is difficult enough, but also turning the sometimes random ingredients into something I’d want to actually make even without these limitations. However, sometimes it’s something like this cauliflower macaroni and cheese dish, which fulfills both requirements most tastily, that really shows how much fun kitchen problem-solving can be.

This is pure comfort food: tangy cheeses, tender cauliflower, and crispy prosciutto cloaking spiral macaroni. Of course, you can easily substitute breadcrumbs for the prosciutto, or perhaps swap out the cheddar cheese for my favorite, blue cheese. Plus, it’s easy to assemble and can be refrigerated until baking it just before serving it. This will definitely be making another appearance in my kitchen soon, and maybe yours too.

First, prepare eight ounces of dry pasta according to package directions. Then, wash and break up half a cauliflower, because not having to wash a knife = yay!

Once the pasta is done, drain it and let cool a few minutes. Mix it around in a large 9×13 baking pan or casserole dish (you may want to grease yours if it isn’t nonstick like mine).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, in a bowl, mix together 1/2 tablespoon dry mustard powder (I like Coleman’s) and 1/2 cup mozzarella,

one cup ricotta and 3/4 cup sour cream,

grind in a bit of salt and pepper and add in 3/4 cup or so of cheddar,

and finally 1/2 teaspoon or so of cayenne pepper and stir. Of course, you can do these in any order, this is just the order in which I grabbed the ingredients. Also, if the proportions are a bit different, it’s not too big a deal either. These are more guidelines for proportions between liquid ingredients (ricotta and sour cream) to “dry” ingredients (mozzarella and cheddar cheeses).

Oh, and it’s probably a better idea to taste the cheese mixture now and then add salt if needed, as some cheeses can be saltier than others.

Pour cheese mixture over the cauliflower and pasta.

Try to evenly coat the pasta and cauliflower.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.

Once 35 minutes have passed, take the dish out of the oven and give everything a nice stir.

Top with three slices or so of prosciutto – because prosciutto makes things fancy, or at least for me it does. Pop it back in the oven for an additional fifteen minutes so the prosciutto can crisp up.

Mmmmmmm…cheese…

Dig in!

Cauliflower macaroni and cheese

Serves eight to ten

Ingredients

  • Eight ounces of pasta
  • half a head of cauliflower, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry English mustard (I like Coleman’s)
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, grated/shredded
  • One cup ricotta
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup extra-sharp cheddar, grated/shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Three-four slices prosciutto, torn into pieces

1. Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Break cauliflower into bite-size pieces.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain pasta and mix together with cauliflower pieces in a 9×13 baking pan or casserole (grease if nonstick).

3. Mix together mustard powder, pepper, cayenne pepper, ricotta, sour cream, and shredded cheeses. Taste and add salt if needed.

4. Pour mixture over cauliflower and pasta, and mix it around. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for thirty-five minutes.

5. Remove dish from oven and tear over prosciutto. Bake an additional fifteen minutes uncovered, so the prosciutto can crisp up. Serve hot and enjoy!

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