Doesn’t everyone love macaroni and cheese? I have yet to meet anyone who hates the stuff. Of course, my love for it brings back childhood memories of mom sending me to school with a thermos full of boxed mac and cheese. Since eating too much of the boxed stuff in college, I went on the hunt for the best homemade recipe. After years of tinkering in the kitchen for the best macaroni and cheese recipe, this easy homemade cauliflower macaroni and cheese is my new favorite. One of my all-time favorite places for macaroni and cheese is The Globe in San Francisco. It is to die for. This recipe comes close.
That said, I’ve had my fair share of making bad macaroni and cheese for folks. A lot had to do timing. I once made the mistake of letting the macaroni and cheese sit too long before putting it in the oven; utter failure. Another time, I had late arriving guests, and let it sit in the oven too long. Upon serving, the result was the dreaded macaroni mortar brick.
This recipe is simple and forgiving. No need to worry about it seizing. The key is to utilize an assertive cheese (like Gruyere or a sharp cheddar) along with creme fraiche, which helps it remain delectably creamy after baking and even reheating (a huge plus in my book). It’s also an easy way to get some veggies in ;).
This recipe serendipitously came together with what I had on hand. It features cauliflower and zucchini from my On The Vine CSA produce box from North Scottsdale Farmers Market, local artisan creme fraiche from Gina’s Homemade, and Wagon Wheel cheese (nutty like Gruyere, but creamier!) from Cowgirl Creamery (from our recent trip to Oakland Grand Lake Farmer’s Market in Oakland, CA).
- Prep Time : 30 minutes
- Cook Time : 20 minutes
- Yield : 6
- cauliflower - 1/2 head, chopped
- zucchini - 1/2 cup, grated
- gruyere cheese - 2 cups, grated ( I used Wagon Wheel from Cowgirl Creamery; may also use cheddar)
- unsalted butter - 2 tbsp
- All purpose flour - 2 tbsp
- Whole milk - 2 cups
- salt - 1/2 tsp
- pepper - 1/4 tsp
- macaroni - 8 oz
- creme fraiche - 1/2 cup
- bread crumbs - 1/4 cup
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring large pot of of water to a boil, and add 2 1/2 tablespoons of salt to it.
- De-stem and chop cauliflower into small florets.
- Grate zucchini, then gruyere cheese. Set aside.
- Add macaroni to the boiling water according to package directions. Add cauliflower in the last 5 minutes of cook time.
- Place medium sized pot on medium heat, and melt butter.
- Add flour to the butter, and whisk for several minutes. Color should be pale yellow. Do not allow to turn brown.
- Slowly add milk to butter flour mixture, continuously whisking for several minutes until mixture thickens.
- Remove from stove, and whisk in cheese, creme fraiche, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Pour into pot of drained pasta and vegetables (add zucchini), and mix.
- Pour into 9 inch casserole dish (covered), top with breadcrumbs (optional), and place in oven for 20 minutes.