I’m having a bit of a thing with cauliflower right now. I buy at least three big heads of it per week and have been experimenting putting it into different dishes. I pretty much look at any recipe and wonder, “Could I do this with cauliflower instead?” Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s kind of how life goes right?
Look, life lessons while making yummy food. Can’t get any better than that.
Last week I had delicious taquitos (which you should definitely make immediately… after today’s recipe) that had a cauliflower filling and this week I’m doing a little bit of a twist on macaroni and cheese. Spoiler alert: there is no macaroni. Or cheese. There is, however, cauliflower, a delicious cheese-esque sauce, and a slow cooker.
Now, before you Mac N’ Cheese purists come at me with pitchforks and torches this recipe isn’t meant to taste exactly like Mc N’ Cheese it just uses a similar process. And if we’re on the subject of tasting like Mac N’ Cheese, apparently Kraft rolled out it’s new less artificial Mac N’ Cheese and told NO ONE and there were literally no complaints about it. So if we want to get technical, no one really knows what Mac N’ Cheese tastes like so who’s to say my version isn’t right?
Ok, that took a weird little turn but back to this recipe. I love the pesto-cheesy sauce on this and I like that I made it in my slow-cooker so there was minimal effort. You could easily prepare the sauce stuff before hand and then throw everything together in the slow cooker when it’s time to make dinner. It all tastes rich, creamy, and decadent yet you’re still getting a lot of nutrients and a big dose of vegetables. Talk about a win!
Cauliflower Pesto Mac N’ Cheese
- 1 large head of cauliflower, about 5 to 6 cups, cut into florets
- 1 batch of No Mozzarella Mozzarella
- 1 batch of Spinach Pesto
- 3/4 cup of full-fat coconut milk or any other non-dairy milk you like
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 to 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Cut up your cauliflower and set aside. Make the No Mozzarella Mozzarella and the Spinach Pesto. You can do this the night before if you want or right before.
- Lightly oil your slow cooker with a little olive oil and place cauliflower florets into your slow cooker. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together the mozzarella and pesto. It will be really thick but don’t worry.
- Add the coconut milk slowly and keep whisking until you have a smooth and pourable sauce. You might not use all the milk and you might need a little more just adjust until you have the right consistency.
- Pour the pesto sauce over the cauliflower, making sure to coat everything. Sprinkle the top with smoked paprika, cover, and cook on high for 3 hours or a little longer if you want super soft cauliflower.
Serve up and enjoy the goodness!
Happy 4th of July! I hope you are enjoying the day off and participating in all the fun festivities! I am spending the day with family, but I still wanted to leave you with a recipe today! I know it’s not very “4th of July-y” but it is delicious whenever you make it. This is kind of a grown up mac n cheese because the chipotle adds a little bit of a kick. Also, if you have an Aldi near you and are gluten free, you need to go and stock up on their gluten free pasta. They have two types of corn flour pasta, penne and fusilli, and brown rice spaghetti. They all cost less than $2 for over a pound of pasta and the only ingredients are corn flour and water or brown rice. Considering most gluten free pasta costs well over $4 and sometimes has more ingredients than I can count, this is a fantastic deal. Aldi is really doing a great job of adding better quality products to their store, including a line of organic food called simply organic. I have been able to find honey, almond milk, and even almond butter at one, all for reasonable prices. Ok, public service announcement over, on to the recipe!
Chipotle Chili Mac N “Cheese”
- 1 package of whole wheat or gluten free pasta (I used penne but obviously macaroni would work too)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight
- 3 chipotle chili’s soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes (save the water!)
- 1 cup vegetable broth or water
- 1/2 cup reserved chili water
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch (corn starch could work too, but I haven’t tried it)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp chili powder
- 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- smoked paprika, as a garnish (optional but really tasty!)
1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions and then drain and set aside
2. While the pasta is cooking, remove the chili’s from their soaking water (but remember to keep it!) and chop into bite size pieces. Saute the onion over medium high heat until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Place the onion and garlic into a blender along with the rest of the ingredients, except the smoked paprika. Blend everything until you have a smooth and creamy sauce. The sauce will be thin and liquid-y at this point, don’t worry that’s ok!
4. Pour the cheese sauce into the pot that you cooked the pasta in and heat over medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken up. Add the pasta back into the pot and stir to combine with the sauce. Sprinkle the smoked paprika over the pasta after it has been served if desired.
This is a fairly quick meal to throw together as long as you remember to soak your cashews before hand. If you forget though, have no fear. You can do a quick soak by boiling some water and then pouring that over the cashews and letting them soak for at least 30 minutes. You can also double this and serve to a hungry crowd, so if you’re looking for a healthy and tasty dish to bring to your 4th of July BBQ, this might fit the bill! Enjoy!