Runner’s Recipe: Cauliflower Mac with Caramelized Shallots and Goat Cheese

We have a big package of mac and cheese in one of our closets. I think there are 12 or 24 boxes of the blue box Kraft stuff in there. I don’t really know because we’ve never opened it. We’ve never even really touched it since we brought it home. We got it with the intent that we would use it “in case of emergency,” but now that it has been there for a couple of years, I’ve realized that even in case of emergency, we may not be tempted by the blue box mac and cheese, as much as we loved it in our younger days. And that is because we’ve kind of fallen in love with homemade mac and cheese. We’re in so deep that we can’t help but look at the blue box sitting in our shelf and wonder what we were thinking. It’s almost embarrassing. We spent money on that. It’s taking up precious space in our little apartment. What to do, what to do?

Probably just use the mac and toss the cheese, right? The cheese bag, anyway. I’d still use cheese. Think of all the mac and cheese we could make with those blue box elbows. But I hate to waste perfectly good cheese powder. Anybody want some? The cheese powder is up for grabs. Anyone? Well, can I interest you in a recipe for creamy mac and cheese with cauliflower? Okay, then. Here you go.

Creamy Cauliflower Mac with Caramelized Shallots and Goat Cheese adapted from March 2011 Runner’s World

2-2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1 cauliflower, cored and cut into large pieces

8 ounces elbow macaroni

1/2 cup grated cheese of your choice (sharp cheddar, Gruyere, monterey jack)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon dijon mustard (I really liked this, but you may want to use less if you are serving kids. It adds a bit of a kick.)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

3 tablespoons butter

2 large or 3 small shallots, chopped

2-3 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled (or to taste)

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil (enough to cover the cauliflower). Add cauliflower and boil for about 25 minutes, until very tender. While that is boiling, warm vegetable or chicken stock in small saucepan. Add bay leaves and let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat. (You can also caramelize the shallots while the cauliflower is boiling. Directions are below.) Drain cauliflower and put in a food processor along with stock (discard bay leaves), olive oil, Dijon mustard, and cheeses. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped shallots and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and brown, 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil more water in a large pot. Add macaroni and cook for 5-6 minutes. Drain and toss with cauliflower mixture. Place in a greased 9-inch square baking dish.

Sprinkle caramelized shallots and crumbled goat cheese over macaroni. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until heated through.

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8 Comments

  1. mmm that sounds like one of the only good uses for cauliflower. ha. but seriously, i’ve tried to make homemade mac and cheese many a time, the most memorable and awful being when i was pregnant and used a special garlic white cheddar that ruined garlic for me for the rest of my pregnancy. oh it was gross. besides a special “sticky macaroni” recipe from my dad, i haven’t had any luck. i’ll let you know how i do with this one!

    [Reply]

    lizzie Reply:

    I think roasted tomatoes were my garlic during my first pregnancy. I still get a little queasy when I think about them. I hope you enjoy this one. It’s pretty good. I really liked the mustard in it.

    [Reply]

  2. Looks delish! thanks for posting and I’ll be sure to cut back on the “spice” for the kiddie palate.

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  3. Have you ever sprinkled the cheese powder over popcorn?

    [Reply]

    lizzie Reply:

    We haven’t, but I think we’ll try it. We eat plenty of popcorn around here and it’s nice to change things up a bit every now and then.

    [Reply]

  4. Donate it to a food kitchen!

    [Reply]

    lizzie Reply:

    That’s a great idea, too. I’ll have to look into that.

    [Reply]

  5. During the past year I’ve thrown away a lot of seasoning packets that contain cheese or dairy ingredients (all stuff I stock piled from work pre-2009). They don’t last as long as I would have thought (or more realistically hoped)! Open a packet of powder and if it looks dark or is clumped just throw it away. We could take it to the Respite care center for you if you want to donate any of the contents or regardless of what you do with the cheese powder use the noodles…they’ll last a lot longer than the powder.

    In the meantime, I have a head of cauliflower and am planning on making the recipe for dinner today. It sounds delicious.

    [Reply]

    lizzie Reply:

    Thanks for confirming what we suspected. We opened a cheese packet on Saturday to try the popcorn thing, but decided it looked scary and tossed it.

    I hope it turned out well for you!

    [Reply]

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