I eat a lot of cauliflower and I’m by no means the first to discover that pureed it can stand in for all kinds of creamy sauces. For this recipe I was inspired by two recipes, one from Mark Bittman and another from Michelle Obama. Yup. Michelle Obama. It’s a recipe that is floating around the internet but I really couldn’t find very many comments from readers who had tried it, so I just went for it. The whole grain pasta and cauliflower addition make this a healthier recipe than some, but I still wouldn't call it healthy.
My version of this recipe differs a bit from the Bittman recipe in that I use more cheese and a bit of milk. It differs from the Obama recipe in that I use macaroni, not penne and I used a bit less milk. Lots of recipes use different styles of pasta, but there is a reason why this dish is called "macaroni and cheese" it's because macaroni really is the best shape for it. I also flavored my mac and cheese with dry mustard and roasted Hatch chiles. This year for the first time I used mild chiles. My recommendation? Combine a little bit of hot or medium hot chiles with some mild ones to get plenty of chile flavor and just a hint of heat. This recipe is infinitely adaptable, skip the chiles, add more, or use whatever chiles you like best.
Note: If you prefer a mac and cheese with a baked cheesy or crusty top, feel free to add one! I’m generally too lazy to bother.
Cauliflower Hatch Chile Macaroni & Cheese
Serves 6 - 8
1 pound whole wheat macaroni
1 pound cauliower, about 1/2 large head
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard, or more to taste
1 pound shredded melting cheese (I used a combination of jack and cheddar)
1 1/2 cups diced roasted peeled and seeded Hatch chiles, or more to taste (hot, medium, mild or a combination)
Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente then drain and set aside. In the meantime, boil or steam the cauliflower. When tender transfer the cauliflower to a blender along with the milk and dry mustard and puree.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Pour in the cauliflower puree, cheese and chiles and stir until the cheese is completely melted. Taste and add more mustard or chiles if desired. Serve immediately