Orange Cauliflower Mac n' Cheese

By • January 20, 2010 12 Comments

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Author Notes: Most comfort foods are comforting to our psyches but upsetting to our waistlines. This is my lower-calorie, healthier version of comforting mac 'n cheese made with low-fat milk and vitamin-rich orange cauliflower. On a whim last year, I added some fajita spice to it, and when my husband tasted it, he said, "It may sound weird, but this mac 'n cheese tastes like Doritos." It really does. But the spices are optional. It's creamy and delicious without it as well.Food Blogga

Makes 4 main or 6 side servings

  • 1 head orange cauliflower (white can be substituted)
  • 1/2 pound small pasta such as gemelli, elbows, or shells
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-fat or skim milk, plus 1/2 cup for pureeing cauliflower
  • 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese, plus 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top
  • several shakes of salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fajita or Mexican spices, optional
  • 1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Trim cauliflower and break into small florets. Boil until tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain. Place in a blender or processor with 1/2 cup milk and puree until thick and smooth. Set aside.
  3. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente.
  4. For the sauce, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk briskly. Gradually add 2 cups milk, whisking continuously, until it reaches a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes, or until thick and bubbly. Add the pureed cauliflower, 1 cup cheddar cheese, and a generous amount of salt and black pepper. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat. Add cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and toss until well coated. Pour into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheddar evenly over the top.
  5. For the buttered breadcrumbs, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and toss until coated. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the cheddar.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown on top and the cheese sauce is bubbling around the edges.

More Great Recipes: Side Dishes|Cheese & Dairy|Pasta|Entrees|Cauliflower

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Comments (12) Questions (0)


6 months ago Douglas Boyce

the pureed veg (I used broccoli) was genius and makes the texture an absolute delight


almost 2 years ago jayaymeye

I made this tonight. It was quite tasty. Definitely not the same, of course, but a nice, hearty mac-and-cheese stand-in. Thanks!


over 5 years ago Food Blogga

vrunka-As if we need an excuse to eat more mac n' cheese. :)

aargesi-You're so welcome! I feel less guilt this way.

chezsuzanne-I'm happy to hear it. Thanks!


over 5 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

I love the orange cauliflower - it's called Cheddar cauliflower around here. Great recipe!


over 5 years ago Food Blogga

You know, I just read that the other day, but I've never seen it. Cute name though!


over 5 years ago vrunka

that looks great -- and it's a good excuse to eat more mac and cheese!


over 5 years ago Kelsey Banfield

Great idea! I'll admit, I have a hard time with cauliflower but I will definitely try this one. It's so nice to have lots of veggies in a casserole - so much healthier. And don't you love the husband comments? I've heard a few like that, too!


over 5 years ago Food Blogga

The husband comments are the best!


over 5 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This sounds SO good, and thank you for a lighter healthier version of mac n cheese - swimsuit season is right around the corner!!!


over 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Brilliant! I was just thinking, this morning, about how I'd like to put some of the great baked pasta --mostly, the mac'n'cheese -- recipes that have been posted lately to use with broccoli, and not pasta, as the base ingredient!! Have never seen orange cauliflower before . . . never even heard of it. Lovely!


over 5 years ago Food Blogga

Then you've got to try it! It's so cheerful and tasty.


over 5 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks fabulous!! I've got to make this. Right. Now.