December 13, 2023

Cauliflower Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Recipe: Michael Smith

“This sauce is similar in taste to the classic cheesy variety, but it’s lighter and healthier, thanks to the cauliflower.” – Michael Smith


Cauliflower Mac ‘n’ Cheese

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into medium florets, stem chopped
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 lb. Avonlea Clothbound cheddar or another aged cheddar cheese, coarsely grated, divided

Caraway Rye Crust

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 8 oz. light rye bread
  • 1 cup reserved grated cheddar cheese (from above)


Yield: Serves 6 or 12 as a side

Make Mac ‘n’ Cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Turn on convection fan, if you have one.
  2. Bring large pot of salted water to a furious boil. Add pasta and cook until tender yet still slightly chewy, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta and reserve.
  3. Toss half of cauliflower florets and chopped stem into pot. Add milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to high-speed blender. Add garlic, mustard, paprika and salt. Carefully purée until smooth. (Hot liquids are dangerous — they can violently erupt. For safety, drape kitchen towel over blender, start slowly, then gradually increase speed.)
  4. Return sauce to pot. Reserve 1 cup of cheese for crust. Whisk in remaining cheese, until smooth. Stir in pasta and remaining cauliflower florets. Transfer to 13″ x 9″ baking dish.

Make Crust and Bake

  1. Toss butter into small saucepan over medium-high heat. Swirl gently as it melts, steams, foams and lightly browns. Remove from heat and add caraway seeds, swirling and gently toasting until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Break bread into food processor and pulse, grinding into rough crumbs. Add butter mixture and reserved 1 cup of cheese. Pulse just enough to mix into coarse crumbs.
  3. Spread crumbs in thick, even layer over mac ‘n’ cheese. Bake until goldenbrown and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Recipes from Farmhouse Vegetables by Michael Smith. ©2023 Michael Smith. Photography by Al Douglas. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved