Buffalo Cauliflower Mac N’ Cheese

*Finally climbs onto the cauliflower bandwagon*

Well guys, I caved. After seeing cauliflower infect every damn thing on the Internet — cauliflower grilled cheese, cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower wings — I figured I should give one of these trendy recipes a shot. However, if I ever see anyone put cauliflower in ice cream (gag), I will promptly shut down this blog and swear off cooking for good.

Just kidding. I do have a flair for the dramatic…

I couldn’t fully commit to the idea of using cauliflower as a substitute for bread or grains, because let’s be honest, I’m never going to cut carbs in my life. When I die, you’ll probably find me with a large baguette in hand and a big smile on my face. So, with this in mind, I ended up picking a Buffalo Cauliflower Mac N’ Cheese recipe from the Food Network. It’s a traditional mac n’ cheese recipe (so yes, god bless, there’s pasta in it), loaded with pepper jack cheese, cheddar cheese, and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. And, of course, our low-carb savior cauliflower. I have to admit I absolutely loved this dish — it was savory and spicy, and I didn’t feel guilty stuffing my face with it because there were a decent amount of vegetables involved. You win this round, cauliflower. But I’m never giving up pizza crust for you.

Try it and let me know what you think in the comments!

*Original recipe from the Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup hot sauce, plus more for serving, preferably Frank’s RedHot
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 pound sharp yellow Cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup panko 
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a large bowl with ice water. Cook the cauliflower until just tender, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower and immediately submerge it in the ice water to cool completely, then drain and set aside.

3. Bring the salted water back to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

4. Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the blanched cauliflower and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute more.

5. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and mustard until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, then add the remaining 1/4 cup hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the Cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.

6. Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish and pour over about half of the cheese sauce. Top with the cauliflower mixture and the remaining macaroni. Pour the remaining cheese sauce evenly on top.

7. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir in the panko and blue cheese. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then serve with additional hot sauce on the side.

Bon Appetit!

Bridget

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