Cauliflower and Mushroom Mac and Cheese

Total Time:
2 hr 20 min
Prep:
1 hr 5 min
Inactive:
10 min
Cook:
1 hr 5 min

Yield:
4 to 6 serving
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • Mushrooms:
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 small shallots, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped to a paste
  • 1 1/4 pounds cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Mac and Cheese:
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta (or other curly pasta)
  • 5 to 6 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering dish
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces fontina cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup grated asiago cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Breadcrumb Topping:
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1/4 cup Calabrian chiles in oil, patted dry and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • White truffle oil, for drizzling
  • Fresh parsley leaves, for garnish
Directions

For the mushrooms: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Increase the heat to high, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown and soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the mac and cheese: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Transfer to a large bowl.

Put the milk into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof saute pan over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Cook until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, cover loosely with foil and cook in the oven until soft.

To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 4 cups of the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and the flour taste has been cooked out, about 7 minutes, adding more milk if the sauce is too thick.

Remove the cauliflower from the oven and transfer to a blender with 1 cup of the milk and blend until smooth. Add the cauliflower puree to the bechamel and stir until combined. Slowly whisk in the fontina, Monterey Jack, asiago and Parmigiano-Reggiano until smooth, adding more hot milk if too thick. Mix in the nutmeg. Pour the sauce over the pasta, add the mushrooms and stir well to combine.

Butter a 10-inch baking dish, transfer the pasta mixture to it and bake until bubbly and the top is lightly golden brown, about 30 minutes.

For the breadcrumb topping: While the mac and cheese is baking, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the anchovy paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the chiles and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the mac and cheese topped with some of the breadcrumbs and a drizzle of white truffle oil. Garnish with parsley leaves.


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