My daughter and I love macaroni and cheese and I thought it would be a great idea to add some cauliflower to it to sneak in a few more veggies into both our diets. So I played a bit with my favorite mac ‘n cheese recipe and have devised this veggie mac recipe. It’s so yummy! The creaminess of the cheesy noodles is one of my favorite parts but I do like a little bit of crunch too. So, I decided to add a crumble topping made from a combination of bread crumbs and one of our absolute favorite crunchy treats – Cheez-its! I figured they’re crunchy + cheesy – a perfect fit for the topping. Here’s my recipe:
:: Ingredients ::
8 oz. pasta (I used shells but any type will do)
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons butter
2 1/2 Tablespoons Flour
3 cups Milk
8 oz. extra sharp Cheddar, grated
4 oz Gruyere, grated
4 oz Parmesan, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup Cheez-it Crackers, crumbled
:: Step 1 ::
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with cooking spray and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and pasta and boil according to package directions. When there is 5 minutes left in the cooking time, add cauliflower to the boiling pasta water. When the pasta and the cauliflower are tender, drain and set aside.
:: Step 2 ::
Melt butter in a pot (I use the same pot I just cooked the pasta in to save on cleanup), add flour and stir constantly allowing the flour to cook for a couple of moments (this takes away the raw flour taste). Slowly pour in milk, stirring constantly until thickened – about 4 minutes or so. Add cheese and stir until melted and sauce is smooth. Taste sauce at this point and add salt & pepper if necessary.
:: Step 3 ::
Add pasta to sauce and stir to coat. Pour into prepared pan and top with bread crumbs and crumbled Cheez-its. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
I hope you enjoy this cheesy casserole! Please drop me a note and let me know how you like it!