Recipe: Capalbo’s Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

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Whenever I’m stumped for new dinner ideas, I like to ask friends what they’ve been eating. This recipe came from Anabel, who served up a new twist on a classic to rave reviews during a girls’ night.

While it’s not the super-smooth-and-creamy-chemical-laced boxed stuff, it does have a lot of good nutrients (cauliflower’s a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6, for example). It also hits the spot when you’re in the mood for a decadent-tasting side dish; I like to pair it with protein, like chicken or salmon.

And although mac and cheese is something I usually reserve for special occasions, Anabel assured me that it “tastes very rich and indulgent without having any butter and very little cheese.” Sold. 

Capalbo’s Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

(Adapted from “The Athlete’s Palate” in the March 2011 issue of Runner’s World)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cauliflower, cored & cut into large pieces
  • 8 oz. whole-wheat elbow macaroni (I used an entire 13 oz. box)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I eyeball this)
  • 1/2 cup whole-grain bread crumbs (same as above)

Directions: 

  1. Heat oven to 400. Microwave cauliflower in a steamer bag for five minutes or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, warm stock and bay leaves on medium-low heat for five minutes; turn off heat.
  3. Place cauliflower blender or food processor. Add macaroni pasta to the boiling water and cook for five minutes. Drain pasta, and rinse to cool. Put pasta in a greased, 9-13-inch baking dish.
  4. Process cauliflower with stock (bay leaves removed), cheese, oil, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Note: if using a blender be sure to leave open a crack for steam to escape.
  5. Pour sauce over pasta, toss and spread evenly in dish. Top with Parmesan and bread crumbs.
  6. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Healthy mac and cheese — yea or nay?
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8 thoughts on “Recipe: Capalbo’s Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

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