January is for Cheese Lovers and I think that this yummy Mac N Cheese may just surprise many with how healthy it really is
During my child-hood I grew up with a family that cooked everything. It was all homemade and it seemed that it was all delicious. Now days many get a head start with their mac n cheese by purchasing and preparing mac n cheese from the box.
The cheese mix in the unmarked white envelope that made that startling orange cheese was always yummy. The orange color comes from a new and different ingredient than what is normally found in mac n cheese. It may just surprise you that the orange color was from an orange cauliflower. I know I didn't know cauliflowers were orange either.
Some may say it looks like an :"alien vegetable" but the truth is that the bunch of orange or "cheddar" cauliflower gets it colors from creamy coral to sunburst orange and is strikingly unique. The color comes from the extra beta carotene that is naturally stored in its florets. Orange cauliflower has 25% more vitamin A than the the common while cauliflower
The orange cauliflower was discovered in Canada in 1970. It was shipped to Cornell University where ag scientists crossbred it with white varieties to create the showstopper of a vegetable. Now the orange cauliflower is available at farmer markets and some grocery stores.
The orange cauliflower comes into peak season during the fall months. It can be used in any recipe that calls for cauliflower. Use it mashed, sauteed with potatoes, in soups, or roasted and served with pearl onions.
Orange Cauliflower Mac n cheese is delicious with a bubbly and crunchy cheese topping. The pasta stays soft and creamy.
Orange Cauliflower Mac n' Cheese
Makes 4 servings
Print recipe only here.
1 head orange cauliflower (white can be substituted)
1/2 pound small pasta such as gemelli, elbows, or shells
2 tablespoons Smart Balance butter substitute
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups skim milk, plus 1/2 cup for pureeing cauliflower
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese, plus 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top
a generous amount salt and several cranks of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fajita or Mexican spices, optional
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Smart Balance butter substitute
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Trim cauliflower and break into small florets. Boil until tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain. Place in a blender or processor with 1/2 cup milk and puree until thick and smooth. Set aside.
Cook pasta according to directions until al dente.
For the sauce, melt 2 tablespoons Smart Balance in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk briskly. Gradually add 2 cups milk, whisking continuously, until it reaches a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes, or until thick and bubbly. Add the pureed cauliflower, 1 cup cheddar cheese, and a generous amount of salt and black pepper. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat. Add cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and toss until well coated. Pour into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheddar evenly over the top.
For the buttered breadcrumbs, melt 1 tablespoon Smart Balance butter substitute in a small skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and toss until coated with butter. Sprinkle even over the top of the cheddar. Or, if you prefer, set crumbs aside, and use as a garnish just before serving.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown on top and the cheese sauce is bubbling around the edges.