So I have been wanting to make baked mac and cheese now for quite awhile. I actually made the fat kid version 2 weeks ago that had piles and piles of 3 kinds of cheeses, stacks of butter and about a pint of cream. Thanks a lot Pinterest for the tasty treat, but I'm not gonna lie, I felt like an artery clogged Om-pa -loom-pa post indulgence. I scoured the interweb this week in search for a more figure friendly version of the beloved comfort food. I came across this recipe on runnersworld.com. Definitely check out the link to this weeks recipe. Mark Bittman, marathon runner, chef and columnist for the New York Times came up with this tasty spin on an old favorite for this weeks installment. Thanks Mark! As always, I made a few additions to the recipe without comprising the overall health factor too much. As you will see this specific recipe omits butter, cream and cups and cups of cheese giving your a healthier meal.
8 oz of whole wheat pasta (I used Rotini)
2 1/2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup of Chipotle Panko bread crumbs
1 head of cauliflower, cut and cored into pieces
1 package of Canadian bacon
1/2 package of frozen peas
1/4 cup parmagian cheese
1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese ( I used maple smoked cheddar, one of our favorites)
2 tbsp of Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp of nutmeg
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cut cauliflower head into florets similar to broccoli. Boil cauliflower for approx 25 minutes until soft. Place cauliflower aside in food processor.
If you compare recipes, you will see that I decided to add Canadian bacon and peas to our mac and cheese. So while the cauliflower is boiling, I browned the Canadian bacon. In a small sauce pot heat chicken or vegetable stock with 2 bay leaves for approx 5 minutes on medium heat (picture lower right). As you can see, I also started a pot of water to boil to cook the pasta.
After your done heating chicken/vegetable stock. Pour stock into food processor with your hot cauliflower. Remove bay leaves. Combine cauliflower, stock, cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper, dijon mustard and oil . I did this in 2 seperate batches so I would not overload the food processor.
Meanwhile, cook approx 8 oz of pasta for 5-6 minutes. Don't boil for full cooking time on box because the pasta will continue to get softer as it bakes in the oven. As you can see above I added a half bag of frozen peas the last minute of boiling to add some color to my dish. Plus Mike loves peas in his mac and cheese. Drain pasta and rinse to stop cooking process.
In a 9x9 greased baking dish- pour in pasta with peas and mix in Canadian bacon. Pour cauliflower cheese sauce over pasta and combine.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup of Chiptole Panko bread crumps and 1/4 cup of parmagian over pasta mixture. Place in 400 degree oven for appox 20 minutes until bubbly and delicious.
Let mac and cheese stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Enjoy! Mike said this was one of his favorite Eat Fit Not Fat recipes. As always, I encourage you to add your own additions to make the recipe your own. I substituted whole wheat bread crumbs for chipotle panko bread crumbs. I found the whole wheat bread crumbs that were offered in our grocery store had quite a high amount of sodium. Plus the Chipotle bread crumbs gave it a real kick. I also used a maple smoked cheddar to give it a smokey flavor. I added in Canadian bacon and peas for some added color. Next time I might try some prociutto or pancetta- yum yum!
Calories per serving: 420 (for orginal recipe from runnersworld.com)
Fat per serving: 15 grams
Calories with Canadian bacon and peas: Approx 500 calories per serving ( I couldn't even finish my serving, so not bad at all )
Recipe adapted from http://www.runnersworld.com/recipes/creamy-cauliflower-mac
Comparing the Facts
Martha Stewart's Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe: 765 calories, 33 grams of fat per serving
Taste of Home Mac and Cheese Recipe: 638 calories, 39 grams of fat of per serving
Paula Deens Crock Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe : 821 calories, 53 grams of fat per serving
And shame on Paula Deen. She and her butter are just . . . not right.
Wait, we could have made crock pot mac and cheese? I feel robbed. But for real, it was really good. Peas are the secret to perfect mac and cheese.
Is… Is it bad that as soon as I saw “821 calories” my mouth started watering?
Yum! You did it again!