Cauliflower “Mac-N-Cheese”

Anyone else resolve to eat more vegetables in 2012?  While we don’t usually make formal resolutions, we are trying to work more vegetables into our diet this year.  Cauliflower is an excellent choice as a substitute for potatoes or other starch because it is low in fat and carbs, but high in fiber and vitamin C.  The only tricky part can be making it taste good if, like me, you’re not really a fan of cooked cauliflower.  Roasting the cauliflower with brown butter is a good option.  So is smothering the cauliflower with a cheesy sauce.  Although not the most healthy vegetable side dish around, this recipe by Whitney Miller (winner of the first season of the reality cooking show “MasterChef”) uses cheddar cheese, butter, milk and cream to mask enhance the cauliflower’s natural flavor and make it edible delicious.  We used 2% lowfat sharp cheddar cheese and fat free milk to make it slightly more healthy and will definitely make this one again.  Now, if someone could somehow make exercise more appealing, we’d be all set for the new year.


Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.  Remove the florets from the head of cauliflower, cut or break them into bite-sized pieces, toss them in olive oil in a glass baking dish and season with salt and pepper.


Roast the cauliflower florets in the oven, turning them once, until they are lightly browned and fork tender — about 25 minutes.


While the cauliflower roasts, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of flour to the butter and cook for about a minute.


Slowly whisk in 1.5 cups of milk and simmer over medium heat until the mixture thickens — 2-4 minutes.  Then whisk in 1/2 cup heavy cream and cook for 5 more minutes.


Take the pan off the heat and add salt, pepper and about a cup of grated cheddar cheese.  Turn the heat to medium low and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.


Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and sprinkle a little more grated cheddar cheese on top.  Place the baking dish in the oven heated to 350 degrees and bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly — about 10-15 minutes.


We served the cauliflower with a beef dish, but it would go equally well with chicken or pork.  The rich and creamy cheese sauce complements the roasted cauliflower taste and texture well and makes you all but forget that you’re eating a vegetable.  (You may have noticed that I have the palate of a finicky and stubborn 5 year-old when it comes to veggies, and I really did enjoy this cauliflower.)

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