Cauliflower was not one of my top vegetable picks when I was younger and honestly up until a year or so ago I still was not a big fan. My boyfriend (Dave) on the other hand loves cauliflower so it has become a regular choice of a vegetable to cook with since he enjoys it so much. I also teach families and children how to cook, which I love doing, and well cauliflower is typically not a vegetable families or kids gravitate towards. So I have been put to the test to get a little bit more creative with how to prepare it. It is a really fun challenge! What a better way to enjoy a vegetable than with cheese???
It is a hit! Instead of using macaroni (the "Italian side" of me really wanted to use pasta) swap it for vegetables. The more hearty or meatier the vegetable like cauliflower or broccoli the more substantial the dish. To make it a bit more seasonal and fall like and because I am roasting butternut squash every week this month basically add in some roasted butternut squash or sweet potato fora bit of variety. Adding butternut squash also makes the dish slightly sweeter and if you are trying to get your kids to eat cauliflower or broccoli they may be more inclined to eat it with butternut squash or sweet potato due to the sweetness. Kids love foods that are sweet, but preparing them dishes like this where the sweetness comes from vegetables makes this a great healthy side dish. Also if you are like me who is learning to eat more cauliflower adding the cheese and sweetness makes this actually one of my favorite dishes.
Who doesn't love Mac n' Cheese? I think it is one of the most delicious comfort foods. Unfortunately it isn't the best and healthiest dish for us. This recipe allows you to still have the creamy yummy cheesy consistency you want from a Mac n' Cheese, but loads better for you. By swapping out the macaroni, which doesn't offer much nutritional value for 2 vegetables like cauliflower and butternut squash it makes the dish 10x more nutritional for you. This is your healthy Mac n' Cheese!
Here is a little tip. Adding 1 cup of cooked macaroni to the dish before baking makes this a main dish versus a side dish. Talk about an easy weeknight meal!
Yields 6 side servings
Time 35-40 minutes
1 head of Cauliflower – cut into florets
2 cups Roasted Butternut Squash
1 cup milk, warmed
2 1/2 cups freshly-grated cheddar cheese (I recommend sharp cheddar)
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling carefully add the cauliflower. Let that boil for 3-5minutes. Roast the butternut squash as desired. I recommend 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
3. In another sauce pan heat the olive oil or butter over medium heat. Once hot and melted add the flour and stir. Then slowly add the milk and stir. Season with some salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheeses. Stir until melted.
4. Once the vegetables have cooked place in an oven proof baking dish and pour the cheese mixture over and gently mix. Top with the bread crumbs and bake for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is well melted. Then turn the oven on broil and cook for 5-7 minutes until the top is golden brown.
5. Then turn the oven on broil and cook for 5-7 minutes until the top is golden brown.
6. Serve immediately.