Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

20170409_184906Will and I have a shared Google Doc called “Will it Buffalo?” It has three columns: To Buffalo, Have Buffaloed, and Did it Buffalo? Everything in “Have Buffaloed,” did indeed Buffalo, including wings, salad, pizza, and now this mac and cheese. Items in the “To Buffalo” column include lasagna, enchiladas, sandwich, pot pie, tacos, and veggie burgers (other suggestions welcome).

I should probably explore other vegetable and Buffalo pairings beyond just cauliflower, but it is a perfect neutral vehicle. My love of cauliflower in mac and cheese is not new either, and I just barely adapted the sauce from this cauliflower arugula bleu mac and cheese for this recipe. Considering the amount of cheese in this I don’t think it quite qualifies as healthy, but half a pound of pasta is stretched with a full head of cauliflower to make six satisfying servings. It definitely counts as a comfort food, but one that is slightly more redeeming than others.

Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Serves 6.

  • 8 ounces short pasta, like macaroni, fusilli, or penne
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 5 ounces of sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 cup cayenne pepper sauce (such as Frank’s)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more for the cauliflower and pasta water
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 oz bleu cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 425F. Chop the cauliflower into small florets that mirror the size of your pasta. Toss in the oil and a sprinkle of salt, and then spread onto 2 baking sheets (so there is enough room for them to brown and not just steam). Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing and switching the pans once.

Put the water on for the pasta, and start your sauce by melting the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. When it is starting to bubble, add in the flour and whisk to combine. Continue whisking while the flour and butter cook for about 3 minutes, until it smells a little nutty. Slowly add in the milk, whisking in between additions (or while someone else pours, if you have an extra set of hands). When all the milk is added let it cook over medium heat (or slightly lower if it starts to bubble a lot) for 5 minutes. The sauce should be visibly thicker at this point. Add in the cheddar cheese and hot sauce and whisk to combine. Add in the salt and ground pepper and turn off the heat.

When your cooking water is boiling, salt it and add in the pasta. Cook until al dente, about 6 minutes, and drain. In the pasta pot combine the pasta, roasted cauliflower,  and the Buffalo cheese sauce and mix it all up.

Grease a 9″x13″ pan and add in the pasta and veg mixture. Top with the crumbled bleu cheese. Bake in your oven (still at 425F from roasting the cauliflower) for 15 minutes. Let cool for a couple minutes then dive in.

I have also assembled the mac and cheese up to the point it is ready to be baked and then refrigerated it. In that case take it out of the fridge for about an hour and preheat your oven to 375F. Then bake for about 30 minutes until the bleu cheese is melted and it is heated through.

 

Last Week I Cooked….

It has been a while since my last meal recap, so there are a few more items here than I made in the past week.

Spicy vegan white pizza with broccoli rabe and truffle cream. I was SO excited to make this, and it was great, just maybe not quite up to the standard of my dreams (which isn’t exactly fair anyways). I really wanted the flavor of the pepperoncini peppers to pop, but they got lost among the other ingredients. The truffle cream was an excellent creamy topping, and really worked well in place of cheese as protein and a binder. I will definitely make this again, just with 3 or 4 times as many peppers.

Easy lentil soup with lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. The gremolata really takes this from a ho-hum brown lentil soup to one that is bright and vibrant. Next time I would even make more of the gremolata for very healthy dollops.

Julia Turshen’s no-freakout fried chicken.  There were so many things I liked about this recipe. It uses a whole chicken that you break down. There is smoked paprika in the marinade. And SPICY HONEY to drizzle on top. It truly did not freak me out, and was incredibly delicious.

20170324_174752-1Chicken pot pie (The Homemade Kitchen) and roasted broccoli rabe with lemon. It has been a while since I made pot pie, and my first time making this recipe.  It is chock full of vegetables, with a great binding sauce, and biscuits on top. I made it for a dinner party and the whole crowd was pleased.

IMG_20170407_184440_285German potato salad (sans bacon, potatoes boiled not grilled), sauteed red cabbage, and beer brats. Is it possible to go wrong with this combination? I had the brat on a roll with a large swipe of beer mustard and some of the cabbage. Later in the weekend I heated up some of the potato salad and cabbage, then topped them with an egg for breakfast.

Mushroom rice burgers (The Sprouted Kitchen) with lemon aioli, avocado, sauteed beet greens, and roasted sweet potatoes. These “burgers” have a long ingredient list, but great flavor. Since they have a lot of brown rice in them, I find them a bit too grainy when put on a bun. I had intended to serve them on a salad but forgot to buy a salad base, so they ended up going with a variety of vegetables in the fridge. It wasn’t the most elegantly composed dinner, but made great use of what I had around.

Chickpeas in a fresh cilantro sauce, tomato, onion, and cucumber koshambari, and bhatura (Vegetarian India). The real showoff of this dinner was the bhatura, an Indian fried bread which I had never eaten more but will be seeking out more often. It was very similar to a pita, but fried instead of baked. The chickpeas did not take much to put together, just a simple sauce made in the food processor.

20170328_190041Pizza with sauteed leeks, Italian sausage, kale, and peppadew peppers. This was a pizza born of random things in the fridge (and it was not my most delicate pie). I had about half a pound of Italian sausage that I cooked and removed from the pan. I sauteed the leeks in the sausage fat. I had some chopped kale that I put on top of the tomato sauce, followed by the rest of the ingredients and topped with shredded mozzarella.

20170322_185139-1Curried lentils with coconut milk, roasted cauliflower with Indian spices, brown rice, and yogurt. I felt like I should have worked harder to make such a satisfying meal. These were so easy and flavorful. Paired with roasted cauliflower and topped with yogurt, this is one of my new favorite vegetarian meals.

Other reading: The Hippies Have Won. I for one am very thankful that miso, tahini, and quinoa are mainstream ingredients now.