Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

September 30, 2013

Apparently, I eat a lot of cheese.  Can’t help it, it’s delicious.  Regular cheese, vegan cheese, cheese substitutes, I want it in my life and I want it often.  Unfortunately, no matter how much I love cheese, it never loves me back, so if I want my pants to fit, I have to make other wise choices when I use it.  My favorite way to lighten up a recipe?  Swap out anything I can for a vegetable.

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Traditionally when you make mac and cheese, you’d made some sort of sauce involving full fat milk (or even heavy cream), butter, and flour.   The first time, I used butternut squash, but when I saw orange cauliflower at the store, I knew it would work perfectly.  Homemade mac and cheese is never as bright orange as what comes from a box or in a restaurant, so the added orange color reinforces the cheese flavor (but any color of cauliflower will work).  Many recipes use fat and salt to add flavor, so when you take either of those elements out, you really need to boost the flavor in other ways so that no one misses it.  I’m a huge fan of garlic in my mac and cheese, so I oven roasted a head of garlic and added that to the cheese sauce.

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

I did splurge a little on making a delicious crust for the top – if you want to save some fat and calories, leave the crust off or just use whole wheat bread crumbs.  I also included nutritional yeast in this recipe even though there is cheese.  If you have never tried it, this is the perfect time to ease yourself into it.  If you’re not excited about it quite yet, there’s a note below the recipe for how to swap it out.  If you want to get really crazy delicious, throw some of the BBQ shredded veggies from last week on top – insanely delicious.

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Serves: 8

  • 1 head garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil or nonstick spray
  • 4 c chopped orange cauliflower (any color will work)
  • 4 c vegetable broth or water
  • 1 lb whole wheat noodles (or GF noodles)
  • 10 – 12 oz reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ⅓ c nutritional yeast (see note for substitutions)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ⅔ c cheese crackers (I used Annie’s
  • ¼ c french onions
  • Extra cheese for topping, if desired

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut the top off of the head of garlic, drizzle with oil or spritz with nonstick spray, and wrap in foil. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes until garlic is soft. Set aside to cool.
  3. Bring broth to a gentle boil in a large pot. Add cauliflower, cover, and cook until it is falling apart or very soft. Set aside to let cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions.
  5. Using a blender, process the cauliflower and broth until smooth.
  6. Return cauliflower to a sauce pan over medium heat. Squeeze soft garlic into pan – be careful not to handle if it is too hot and avoid any papery pieces. Cut cheese into cubes and add to cauliflower. Whisk frequently to ensure cheese does not settle on the bottom, until cheese is melted.
  7. Mix cornstarch with milk and whisk into cauliflower mixture. Increase heat to near boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir in nutritional yeast and cook until sauce is thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Stir together sauce and noodles and pour into a large greased casserole dish. Bake for 35 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, crush cheese crackers and french onions in a food processor. Sprinkle over casserole with extra cheese (if desired). Bake an additional 10 minutes.

To sub out nutritional yeast, use an equal amount of Parmesan cheese and increase cornstarch to 2 tbsp.
Do not skip baking the garlic, as raw garlic will be too overpowering. If short on time, use ½ tsp of garlic power for a subtle garlic flavor.
Nutritional estimation uses nutritional yeast.

Nutrition Information
Calories: 340 Fat: 13g Carbohydrates: 36g Fiber: 5g Protein: 22g


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    Tamara Faith Oct 10, 2013

    Wow, all of your dishes look yummy! I’m going to have to make this one!

    Tina @ Tina's Chic Oct 02, 2013

    I love how you added cauliflower to this traditional dish, to make it more healthy! It looks so gooey and delicious. 🙂

    Reeni Oct 01, 2013

    You are some kind of genius for using orange cauliflower for this! I love tricking my Dad into eating his vegetables and this is a great candidate! He will never know and I can get my cauliflower fix.

    Gwen @simplyhealthyfamily Oct 01, 2013

    Doing a happy dance in front of the computer! What a great idea! Pinned to make ASAP!

      Kelly Oct 02, 2013

      Let me know how it turns out!

    makingthymeforhealth Oct 01, 2013

    I’m with you. I can’t get enough cheese either. That’s one of the main reasons why I couldn’t commit to veganism. Cheese and eggs.
    I love that you used orange cauliflower in this mac n cheese. The veggies are truly hidden in classic comfort food. 😉

      Kelly Oct 01, 2013

      Ha, sorry I started a craving! To be fair though, it’s one of the world’s most delicious foods.

      Kelly Oct 01, 2013

      Any color will work, but I always feel like the oranger something is the more cheesy it tastes! There’s a purple cauliflower too if you want to get crazy

    Amy (Savory Moments) Sep 30, 2013

    I love the idea of using some orange cauliflower in the mac and cheese! This looks to gooey and delicious.

    Gretchen @ Two Healthy Kitchens Sep 30, 2013

    Ahhhh … so here is the mac ‘n cheese dish I’ve been waiting to add to my menu!! This looks amazing! I’ve never seen orange cauliflower before (can’t say I’ve ever really tried to find it, either!) – but I’ll be on the lookout for that now! We have some awesome markets in the area – I’m sure one of them would have it!! And yes – I’m betting that the BBQ veggies would be incredible on this!! Fantastic!!
    PS – I’m loving that little blue plate!!! It’s so cute – perfect for this photo shoot!! 🙂

      Kelly Oct 01, 2013

      My Kroger carries orange cauliflower (purple too!), but it’s one of those things you just look right past if you aren’t thinking about it. I’m glad you like the plate! It’s new and Josh gave me one of those looks like “Seriously? You need more plates?” — always. Always need more adorable plates!

    Christine @ 24 Carrot Kitchen Sep 30, 2013

    I love mac and cheese and cauliflower too! I try to limit cheese and save it for delicious dishes like this one. I can’t wait to try the topping. 🙂

    Em @ Love A Latte Sep 30, 2013

    Certainly looks incredible! I wonder how daiya would work in it…

      Kelly Sep 30, 2013

      Have you used daiya in a mac and cheese? I’ve only experimented with nutritional yeast so far (but I’d need to try the recipe a few more times to tell you how much to use for a 100% swap)

    laura @ passtheknife Sep 30, 2013

    This looks so tasty. Of course, I’ll make it for my kids and then devour it myself… but I guess that’s the glory of hidden health.

    cleaneatingveggiegirl Sep 30, 2013

    LOVE that you included cauliflower in this!! I may be slightly obsessed.. 😉