top of page

Healthy Twist on Classic Comfort Food: Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Recipe

Updated: Jan 16

Mac and cheese on its own is a favorite with adults and children alike, especially when made with a combination of delicious cheeses. Even though the original is good as is, this is also a casserole that can be combined with other foods to create a memorable meal.


When you are in the mood for something truly decadent, adding lobster to mac and cheese is a good option but when you are in the mood to keep it simple and nourishing, adding in some vegetables is equally delicious. Vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli are also delicious when baked in a cheese sauce and are perfect to bump up the flavor and nutrient value of mac and cheese.


Even though mac n cheese is a simple dish the preparation does involve several steps and saucepans which can be off putting. In this post I will give you some tips for simplifying the preparation as well as tips for baking the casserole in Convection.


Mac and Cheese Preparation Made Easy


Preparing Mac and Cheese involves several steps, cooking the pasta in boiling water, preparing the bechamel sauce and if you are adding in another ingredient, cooking that ingredient as well. Since this means several saucepans or oven trays, it’s always a good idea to know the options that will work best for your time frame and minimize the amount of clean up.


There is no escaping cooking the pasta in boiling water, macaroni cooks quickly and achieves the perfect texture when cooked in rapidly boiling salted water, so that part is easy.


When adding vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower there are several options for cooking them. The florets can be steamed in a steam oven or in a steamer basket over boiling water. They can also be roasted at high heat (375 - 400°F) in the oven. Cauliflower is especially delicious when slightly caramelized around the edges so broiling the cauliflower in the oven is another option.


Then of course there is the microwave option. Vegetables steam very quickly in the microwave or if you have a Speed oven you could roast or broil the vegetables with some added microwave power to speed up the process. So lot’s of options, to simplify getting those vegetables ready.


The bechamel sauce is traditionally made on the cooktop by slowly cooking the butter and flour together then adding the milk and heating gently until thickened. A simpler option is to make the bechamel sauce in the microwave; however, you will need a microwave safe measuring cup or bowl with at least a 4-cup capacity. A large container is necessary so that you can stir the cheese in once the sauce has thickened.



To prepare the sauce in the microwave, combine the butter and flour in the container and cook on hi for approximately 1 minute. Add the milk, whisk the ingredients to combine, cover the container and cook for approx 2 minutes until the mixture has thickened.


If you were to use the microwave to prepare the vegetables and the bechamel sauce you could conceivably prepare all the components to assemble a cauliflower mac n cheese in approximately 10 minutes. Then of course the casserole needs to go into the oven to bake through. In addition to speeding up the preparation, microwave bowls are all dishwasher safe for easy clean up so using the microwave for some of the prep is definitely worth considering.


The Best Oven Mode for Baking Mac n Cheese


Once your Mac and Cheese casserole is assembled then it needs to go into the oven to heat through and develop a slightly browned crust. The Convection Bake mode is ideal for baking casseroles because in this mode heat is directed from the bottom and top heating elements and the convection fan circulates the heated air around the baking dish ensuring even heating. Placing the casserole in the middle of the oven will give the best results for even heating.


If the casserole is being baked directly after it has been prepared it will only need to be in the oven for approximately 25 minutes and will not need to be covered. However, if you are baking the casserole cold from the refrigerator, allow approximately 45 minutes and keep the casserole covered for the first 20 minutes; then remove the foil for the remainder of the baking time.


The many ways in which a Mac and Cheese casserole can be enhanced is a good example of how a traditional recipe has evolved to reflect current food trends. So when it comes to preparing your Mac and Cheese, make sure you also take good advantage of your modern appliances to simplify the preparation of this simple, delicious culinary standard.


Simple foods have great appeal and our convection ovens are great tools for achieving great texture and flavor when preparing many popular foods. If you want to learn how to prepare a sirloin strip steak in convection with tender juicy results then please check back for my next post


Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

210 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page