Creamy Cauliflower Shells and Cheese

Creamy Cauliflower Shells and Cheese

I cannot believe how long it has been since I posted a new recipe on here. I feel both sad and guilty about it, knowing that while this is my own space to do with as I choose, feeling like my cooking mojo has been on vacation and I just would like it to come back please. I think this is partially due to long warm summer days where turning the oven on feels like a chore, and an energetic little boy who prefers to be at the playground all day than playing at home while I bake. Sometimes I really wonder how so many Moms keep up their food blogs so much better than I do. If there is a secret to this please let me know. More on this subject in a future post, but I am optimistic that with the crisp fall air will come my excitement about being in my kitchen again. I am always the most inspired by pumpkin, apples, pears and all the warm cozy food that brings people together. Stick with me friends- I’m on the up and up I promise.

Ok, now for the present moment and this simple dinner I whipped up for Hugo the other day. I wasn’t originally planning to photograph or share it, as I’ve already made Pumpkin Mac & Cheese and Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese, but I figured the more toddler friendly meals the better, plus it’s super delicious and Andy & I loved it too. Any time I can eat a cruciferous veggie without sacrificing my creamy mac & cheese texture is a win win for me.

Creamy Cauliflower Shells and Cheese

Like the other recipes, this one involves making a puree of cooked cauliflower that gets folded into a cheese sauce. I actually added the whole cauliflower to the prepared cheese cause and used my favorite immersion blender to puree it until silky smooth. (If you don’t have one of those things you must get one- inexpensive and one of my favorite kitchen gadgets.)

The sauce gets tossed with the pasta and the whole think gets baked for a little extra bubbly cheese action. (totally optional but I always like baking mine for a few minutes.) I sprinkled some toasted panko on top for a little crunch and there you have it. Hugo has gobbled this up for dinner the last three nights!

There you have it- I hope to be back with some thing fabulous very soon!

Creamy Cauliflower Shells and Cheese

Yield: 4 -6 servings

Ingredients

  • pasta, cooked al dente and drained. (I used shells but any kind will do)
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 2 cups of white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot of salted water, boil the cauliflower until super soft, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk constantly until golden brown. Gradually add the milk and stir until smooth and thickened (about 5 minutes.)
  3. Add the grated cheese, and then salt & pepper to taste. Stir until smooth and creamy.
  4. Using a food processor or blender, pureé the cauliflower until smooth, . Or, put the cauliflower florets directly into the cheese sauce and use an immersion blender to pureé the sauce.
  5. Stir in the cooked pasta, tossing until evenly coated.
  6. Turn the sauce/pasta into an 8x8 baking dish. Top with a bit more freshly ground pepper if you have, and bake for 10 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
  7. While cooling, toast the panko in a medium sized skillet with a little bit of olive oil, stirring frequently until golden brown. Sprinkle over the pasta and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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14 Comments

  1. Well, here’s my opinion. You should NOT feel guilty about anything, as you are spending precious time with your baby. Take it from an old lady–one day, you are fixing dinner while that baby is sitting on the step stool with a sippy cup in her hands singing Old MacDonald (we always sang about cats, by the way…clearly lots of barn cats were on this farm) and then you wake up the next day, and you are getting dressed for her wedding. So, the point is, the time flies by and you need to cherish every. single. moment with your babe. That is the most important job you have right now. We’re not going anywhere, and one day things will settle down and you can get back to baking and posting recipes. Now. Go kiss that baby boy and start teaching him Old MacDonald. ;)

  2. I agree with Julie wholeheartedly. Could not have said it better! I took 5 years off from work when my daughter was small, and now that she’s about to start her senior year in high school, I’m so grateful for that time. Please don’t be so hard on yourself Audra. And by the way, the cauliflower Mac and cheese looks amazing!

  3. Jan Sturtevant says:

    What Julie and Sandy said! Enjoy every second of Hugo’s babyhood, especially.

    I made a similar Mac and Cheese that left the cauliflower in small florets, and for some reason, I decided at the last minute to sub yellow summer squash for the pasta. I adore pasta, but didn’t miss it. A win-win for me, as I reluctantly count carbs.

    Thanks for your wonderful recipes, whenever they arrive.

  4. This looks amazing, and I love that Hugo gobbled it up! I can see why. Such a great way to get your veggies in a creamy, cheesy & delicious way.

  5. Virginia Alfano says:

    Audra – I was going to write something very similar to what Julie wrote. Please don’t feel guilty about spending time with Hugo. He’s the most important person in your life, and the more time you spend with him now the better adjusted he will be to life later on. Julie’s right – we’re not going anywhere. If you feel like posting a recipe now and then like this one, then do so, but if not – we understand. If all of your follower’s are like me, we love seeing photos of your handsome little man as well. It’s wonderful to see what he’s up to and how big he’s getting. You’re my favorite food blogger, Audra, and you always will be. It doesn’t matter when the recipe’s come. It could be now or three years from now. I’m happy just knowing you’re spending time with Hugo. Before you know it he will be in school and you’ll have lots of time to get back to this. I’ll be here waiting :).

    1. Ginny Alfano says:

      OOPS!! Hi Audra, the computer threw in my given name of Virginia, but I know you’ll remember me as “Ginny” :).

  6. First of all – NO APOLOGIES NECESSARY. Second of all – any time I can get myself to sneak veggies into my mac and cheese…it’s a good day! Loving this!

  7. Hi Audra. As a mom myself of two daughters, one 3 1/2 & the other 5 (starting kindergarten in a couple of weeks), I completely understand soaking in every moment of time possible with our little ones. It seems like just yesterday she was being handed to me for the first time & now I sometimes hear her telling her little sister that she “needs her privacy!”. Enjoy every moment…it does go by so fast!
    Question related to this recipe…the girls & I love cauliflower, but my husband; not so much. Is the cauliflower flavor prevalent in this or is it something I can seek by him? Thanks & enjoy these last few weeks of summer.

  8. creamy cauliflower shells and cheese! Wow, I searched this recipe for a long time. Thanks for sharing! Nice

  9. Glad you’re getting to spend some time being Mommy! Don’t feel guilty. I love your blog, and it just gives me a reason to revisit some of your older posts!

  10. I never know what to do with cauliflower – besides chopping it up and dipping in ranch dressing! This was an easy to follow recipe. Some of the ‘people who live in my house’ tell me they don’t like cauliflower – but they ate this up!

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