Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Not to brag (translation: I’m bragging) but I had this dish at one of the Obama’s White House Christmas parties. My friend Eddie was invited and I was her plus one. On the menu, tons and tons and tons of amazing dishes but this was the one that captured my imagination. In fact, I can’t even remember what else was served. I probably had three servings.

Serves 6

3 cups small shaped pasta, cooked and set aside
2 heads cauliflower, stemmed and broken into small florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (low-fat or whole)
½ cup cheddar cheese powder (Cabot or King Arthur)
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup panko or bread crumbs, lightly toasted

  1. Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast until lightly browned, 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, slowly whisk in the flour and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Slowly whisk in the milk, whisking again until the mixture is smooth. Slowly add the cheese powder and Parmesan cheese. Whisk until smooth. Add the cheddar cheese and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the cooked pasta and roasted cauliflower to the skillet and mix until well combined. Heat if necessary, sprinkle with the panko and serve right away.

Butternut Squash and Spinach version:
Substitute the cauliflower with 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small dice (follow same direx as cauliflower) and 2 cups raw spinach. Do not pre-cook the spinach but instead add it when you add the roasted butternut squash.