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Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese”

Pasta Alternative
Makes 6 servings25 minutes hands on time60 minutes total time

In Catherine Newman’s low-carb take on comforting mac and cheese, cauliflower stands in for pasta as a canvas for decadent cheese sauce.

Cheesy and rich, this cauliflower “mac and cheese” will impress even the greatest of vegetable haters. As an added bonus, it’s full of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate from the cauliflower – and while standard macaroni and cheese can have upwards of 40 grams of carbohydrates per serving, this baked dish is very low-carb (each serving contains 7 grams of carbohydrates). That said, it’s not pasta, and it doesn’t have the same chew – you will certainly feel its not-pasta-ness under your teeth – but instead it’s soft and pleasing. So if your family will be happy for you to just call it what it really is – cheesy cauliflower – then do that.

As far as the cheese is concerned, you can use orange or white cheddar, as you or your children prefer, but make sure it’s sharp for the most robust flavor.

Recipe Details: Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese”

From Catherine Newman

Active time: 25 minutes

Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese RecipeTotal time: 1 hour

Makes: 6 servings

Total carbohydrates: 7 grams per serving

Recipe Note

There’s not enough hot sauce to make this actually spicy – the cream and cheese kind of drown it out – but if your kids will balk at it anyway, then consider replacing it with something zippy they can tolerate, like a little Dijon mustard or a dash of paprika.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (6 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 medium (about 2 pounds) head of cauliflower or 2 12-ounce bags of florets
  • Salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon, such as Frank’s Red Hot (see recipe note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Large pinch of nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F, grease an 8" square baking dish (or similar), put a large pot of water on to boil over high heat, and set aside 1/2 cup of the grated cheese.
  2. Cut or break the head of cauliflower into small florets. I do this by cutting the head in half, then cutting off all the tough outer leaves and cutting out the hard middle core. The rest of the stem I slice into small pieces, and the rest of the cauliflower I break with my hands into small pieces. It’s fine to do this all with a sharp knife.
  3. Salt the boiling water generously, then add the cauliflower to the pot and cook it until it’s getting tender but still has a little bite, around 5 minutes from the time you add it.
  4. Drain the cauliflower and put the empty pot back on the stove. Really shake the cauliflower around in the colander, then tip it onto a clean dish towel or onto multiple layers of paper towel to dry more while you make the sauce.
  5. Put the cream and cream cheese in the pot, turn the heat to low, and cook, whisking, until the cream cheese melts and the cream is steamy. Add the hot sauce, garlic powder, nutmeg, and the 1-1/2 cups of cheese you didn’t set aside. Whisk just until the cheese melts, then turn off the heat. Taste the sauce, and add a pinch of salt if needed.
  6. Add the cauliflower to the pot and stir gently, then transfer it into the baking dish and shake gently to level it out. Top with the reserved cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling and browned. If it’s not as brown as you’d like after 25 minutes, feel free to pop it under the broiler for a minute or two. Cool 10 minutes before serving, to give the sauce a chance to set up a little bit and so nobody burns their tongue.

Photo credits: Catherine Newman