So… who likes Mac & Cheese? Everyone, right? Now… who wishes it wasn’t so bad for you? Again… everyone, right?! I’m not going to claim that this is the exact same thing as this indulgent Lobster Mac, but I can tell you that this version has no butter, no cream, no milk and a whole head of cauliflower. I also had 2 people taste test it and confirm that it’s good and I’m not crazy. PHEW.
To me, this is a Mother’s dream if your kid doesn’t like vegetables. I added arugula, but if you leave that out, you’re still feeding your kids lots of cauliflower – score! As for everyone else, I know there are adults who don’t like vegetables, too… but honestly, it’s also just a delicious creamy recipe that you don’t have to feel terrible about after. I think that appeals to most of us!
1 head of cauliflower
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup pasta water
3 cups shredded havarti cheese
salt and pepper
1 lb pasta
2 cups arugula
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the cauliflower into florets and toss in a bowl with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and thinly sliced garlic. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
I personally like this method much better than steaming or boiling. The cauliflower gets a little caramelized which brings out so much flavor and the garlic covers up any stinky smell that cauliflower can have!
Take the cauliflower out of the oven and add it to a blender with 2 cups of stock. Blend until smooth.
Transfer to a saucepan over medium heat.
Let the sauce cook for about 10 minutes before adding your cheese. (This is a great time to cook your pasta.) As for cheese, I had a ton of havarti on hand, but you could also have fun with cheddar, gruyere or whatever else you love.
Drain the pasta a little bit before it gets al dente and reserve a cup of the pasta water. If your sauce looks too thick, add a little bit of that water to thin it out. This is also a good time to taste test for seasoning. You can add more salt, pepper or red pepper flakes if you like it spicy. I won’t even judge if you think it needs more cheese! Go for it! Then add the pasta and stir to coat.
Then add your arugula! If you guys are fans of arugula, you know it’s fresh, flavorful and a little spicy. I think those qualities make it the perfect addition to this dish.
Gently stir and transfer to a baking dish.
Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese and throw it back in your 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Serve warm!
And yes, those are breadcrumbs in the picture. I sprinkled a little bit on top, but decided to leave it out of the final recipe. Not necessary!
Look at that cheesy, creamy goodness, guys!!
Even though there is the wilted arugula, I served it with extra fresh arugula in the bowl. Honestly, I thought it would make a prettier picture (blogger confession), but I ended up reaching for more of it as we ate! The freshness counters the cheese and really keeps the dish from being too heavy.
As I previously mentioned, I had some taste testers for this recipe. I get nervous sometimes that you guys will think I’m crazy, but I got the thumbs up from people who would tell me if it was terrible! Woo!
Let me know if you try it out! Enjoy!