Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pass it On: Week Two - Macaroni & Cauliflower Cheese Bake

Last weekend we took an impromptu trip to Bellingham to see some of the Aunties. Sitting around the table at a our favourite Pizza joint (yes we go out for pizza, this place is special), one of my sisters' in law, was complaining how she doesn't know how to cook  and was describing her diet to us- cheese sandwiches- all the time. As we were staring at her in abject horror imagining kraft single slices between wonderbread she clarified that her favourite cheese was Tillamook's cheddar, but didn't say a word about the bread. So this week's pass it on recipe is for my sister in law, one can not live off of bread and cheese alone (or can they?).

I chose a recipe based on simplicity and speed that would utilize her favourite ingredient. I also considered cost, quality and quantity (my prices are based on Canadian dollars).

Start to finish on the table eating it took 42 minutes (I may have lost some time when I sliced my thumb open with an inferior knife), I bought all of the ingredients but ended up halving the recipe.

Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese Bake
This is the full recipe as he wrote it. I halved the pasta, the Parm, and 
Sour Cream
  • 1/2 a head of cauliflower ($2 for a whole one)
  • 8 oz of Cheddar Cheese ($6.53 the good stuff)
  • 4 oz of Parmesan Cheese (large block $16- about $2 worth)*
  • small bunch of fresh Italian parsley ($1.99- about .50 worth)
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 1 lb of dried macaroni pasta ($2.99 for organic 16 oz)
  • 1 cup creme fraiche or sour cream ($3.39 for the local brand sour cream) 

Total spent at the store $32.90, what dinner cost: $15.67, $3.92 a head.**

This goes fast so get some salted water on to boil, make sure you are using a large pot that will fit both pasta and cauliflower and a heat proof bowl on top.

Remove outer leaves of the cauliflower, halve it and break into small florets (save the other half for another recipe!). Slicing the stalk thinly if you want. Set aside

Grate Cheddar and Parmesan into the heat proof bowl. Finely chop parsley, stalks and leaves set aside.

Gather remaining ingredients.

Add macaroni and cauliflower to boiling water and cook as per package directions. Turn the heat down (trust me). Immediately put the heat proof bowl with the cheese over the macaroni and cauliflower. Be aware of the rising steam coming from under the bowl and stir to melt your cheese. If the water boils up over the pot turn the heat down slightly. 

Stir in the sour cream, add the chopped parsley stalks and all. Season with salt and pepper.

Carefully remove the bowl from the pot of water and set aside. (You read your pasta cooking instructions right? mine said 10-12 minutes.)  Drain pasta and cauliflower, reserving some of the liquid. Put the macaroni and cauliflower back into the pot. Pour in the melted cheese, mix it all together. If it looks a bit dry add a splash of the reserved liquid.

You can now eat your Mac/Colflower (my family has an inability to say the word Cauli-Flower) & Cheese if you are starving. If you can wait 5-10 mins more, you can transfer to an oven proof dish and place under the broiler on high. Check every few minutes for a nice brown and crispy top. I used this extra time to make a simple salad, set the table and start on the dishes.

This was a very simple recipe to make and one that will provide left overs for a a few nights. Jamie says that his full recipe using 1 lb of pasta all the cheese and sour cream will feed 4-6. I used less and it still fed 4 people reasonably sized portions. Plus we have left overs.

*Jamie called for  4 ounces of parmesan cheese, I only used 2 oz and chose to use Padano instead as it is cheaper. (Tip) I keep both Parmesan Reggiana and Padano in my refrigerator, one for grating and the other for cooking. Padano is half the cost of reggiano but both go a long way.

**If you buy the full list and plus up the Cheddar cheese you will have enough for two recipes! You can freeze one.

As always if you pass it on let me know about, if you blog about leave a link bellow. Just click the Red writing to leave your link!

Lets play!

photos by me.


  1. It looks so good!! I can't wait to make this - got the cauliflower from the store today :) I'll link up once I'm done. Thanks so much for doing the Pass it on project.

  2. That looks really great. Perfect comfy meal for a cold night or when you are craving carbs :)

  3. Yum what a great combo love the cauliflower in it!

  4. @Andrea can't wait to see it!

    @Michelle J, it was yum, we made it twice!

    @Olga, nice simple to make and great comfort, i think using the cauliflower to bulk it up & cutting back on the pasta makes it even more filling. It serves a lot of people to the sour cream, cheese ratio is equally divided.

    @LetMeEatCake, the cauliflower was a good combination and I see many more possibilities!

  5. Oh my goodness, I want this now - had to grab a few cashews just to get thru the post!

  6. I love making mac and cheese, I don't make it enough. I generally make cabonara at least once a week, they can't get enough of it. I should use cheddar more...tomorrow night it is. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. I finally made the dish Megan! It was so good!!! My 3 yr old even ate it :) I was too hungry & didn't brown it first and it was still delicious. Great simple, quick pleasing recipe!



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