After a tiring weekend full of hiking and sleeping in a tent, Marc and I came home hungry and craving some serious comfort food. While Marc took care of unpacking the backpacks, cleaning the tent, and drying out our wet sleeping bags (it rained), I got to work making dinner. I had all of the ingredients to make this macaroni and cheese, as I was planning to make it the previous week. As usual, life (and a couple of really good happy hour deals) got in the way of cooking and I didn’t have a chance to make it.
Obviously it was fate that I waited until that night to make it, because it satisfied our craving perfectly. The recipe was a breeze to put together, and was ready to eat before we knew it. The recipe comes from Real Simple, which is always full of great, simple, and delicious recipes. This one was no exception. I used pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar, which gave the pasta a nice kick of flavor. Marc also suggested adding some chicken sausage that I had in my fridge, which went perfectly with the pepper jack cheese…way to go Marc! The cauliflower also added some bulk to the pasta (it makes a TON!) and at least a serving of veggies per serving of pasta…can’t complain about that, can ya? Since we already had the vegetable taken care of, I served the pasta with some crusty bread…because nothing goes better with a plate full of carbs than a side of carbs.
Cauliflower Mac ‘N Cheese
adapted from Real Simple
12 oz dried elbow macaroni (I used penne)
1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil, divided use
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
1 3/4 cup cheddar cheese (I used pepper jack)
1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
3 links chicken sausage (optional)
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cook pasta according to package. Add the chopped cauliflower for the last 3 minutes of the cooking time. Drain and set aside.
In food processor (or small bowl with a whisk) combine breadcrumbs, parsley, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Set aside.
In large pot, heat remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and the onion over medium-high heat. Season with about 3/4 tsp of salt. Stir occasionally and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Mix in the pasta, cauliflower, sour cream, cheese, milk, mustard, and chicken sausage. Stir until completely combined.
Transfer to a shallow 3 quart casserole dish (I used a 9×13″ pan) and top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.