Monday, October 17, 2016

Cauliflower Macaroni Cheese

Pasta, cheese, bacon, bread crumbs, and "hidden" cauliflower all baked in one dish.  What's not to love?  I did have quite the messy kitchen when dinner was ready, but that's not entirely abnormal when I'm cooking so I shouldn't blame it on the recipe.  The recipe I used can be found here.  Below are the approximate translated measurements I used =)

6 slices bacon
1 head cauliflower
12 oz. dried macaroni
olive oil
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 thick slices of bread
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

Fill large pot 2/3 full with lightly salted water and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile . . .

Lay bacon in a 9x13 baking dish and place in cold oven.  Preheat oven to 425F with the bacon in the oven.  The next steps should take about 15 minutes - the approximate time you'll want the bacon to cook.  

Trim cauliflower, removing coarse outer leaves and the tough end of the stalk.  Break cauliflower into large chunks and place in boiling water.  Add dried pasta and 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Stirring to prevent sticking on the bottom, bring water back to boil.  Cook partially covered with lid.  Meanwhile . . .

In a medium bowl, mix cheese, sour cream, and yogurt.  Set aside.

When cauliflower and pasta are just cooked (a knife inserted into the cauliflower stalk should slide in easily), reserve 1 cup cooking water then drain in a large colander.

The bacon should be done by now.  Remove bacon slices from dish and set aside on paper towels to absorb the grease.  Tip pasta and cauliflower into the dish the bacon was cooked in.  Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved water.  Stir in cheese mixture, breaking up the cauliflower as you go.  If necessary, use a potato masher to break into fine bits.  If the pasta mixture now seems too dry, stir in more of the reserved water.  Season to taste.

To make the breadcrumb topping: place bacon, bread and rosemary in a food processor (my Vitamix did the job).  Process well until you have a breadcrumb topping texture you are pleased with, adding a drizzle of olive oil as necessary to help bind everything together.  Evenly spread breadcrumb mixture over pasta dish.

Cook 8-10 minutes.  Broil 1-2 minutes if you want to give the breadcrumbs extra texture.  The topping should be golden and the pasta sauce should be bubbly.  Grate parmesan on top for serving.  Enjoy!

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