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Year of the Noodle: Week 37

What makes this dish sneaky?  No, it isn’t vegan.  Usually vegan recipes spell it “cheez” instead of cheese so you know what you are getting into (I find that annoying, personally.)  What makes this dish sneaky isn’t the lack of cheese (although there isn’t much), but the addition of cauliflower.  Lots of it.

I had some slight reservations about this recipe, but I was craving mac and cheese and didn’t want to make a crazy unhealthy version.  When I pureed the cauliflower, it tasted pretty good, and I started to feel better about this whole experiment.  But the end result was, well, weird.  It didn’t taste like cheese, or cauliflower.  It just tasted odd.  I gave it a second chance the next day, and it still wasn’t working for me.  In fact, it kinda made my stomach hurt.

Alas, cauliflower just isn’t a good substitute for good old fashioned butter, cream and cheese.  I can’t say I’m all that surprised.  So skip this low fat version and go for the good stuff – and leave the cauliflower behind.

  • 7 oz elbow or shell pasta
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups lowfat shredded cheddar or cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 2/3 cup  milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp panko bread crumbs
  • butter spray
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain well. Steam cauliflower florets until very soft, drain. Let pasta and cauliflower cool a bit while you prepare the other ingredients. Shred the cheese if it’s not pre-shredded. Beat the milk, egg and salt together in a small bowl. Mix the melted butter with the panko in another bowl.
  2. Mash the cauliflower with a potato masher, a whisk, or whatever you have handy. Mix it with the pasta until well combined, being careful not to break up the noodles. Take a pinch of each of the cheeses and toss them with the panko/butter. Set aside.
  3. Combine the rest of the cheese with the pasta and cauliflower. Spray the bottom and sides of your casserole dish lightly with spray butter, then spread the mixture evenly in your casserole dish. Pour the milk/egg/salt mixture over the top. With your mixing spoon, carefully stir and fold until the milk mixture is combined with the pasta/cauliflower.
  4. Sprinkle with the panko/butter/cheese mixture and bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes or until the top just starts to brown.


Source: The Svelte Gourmet

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