What’s wrong with this title? How can we call it Mac & Cheese when there is nothing even remotely resembling Macaroni in it? This is the ongoing argument between my husband John, and I. Now, while part of me agrees with him, the part that grew up on homemade, crispy topped, giant casserole dishes of ooey, gooey, ACTUAL macaroni…there’s also the Keto/LCHF/Banting goddess that resides in my brain gently reminding me that cauliflower actually is similar to macaroni. The texture is similar, the way it absorbs and takes on the flavors in the dish is similar. And let’s face it low carb mommas….when you haven’t had ACTUAL pasta in soooo long, cauliflower makes a dang good replacement! Therefore, I have learned to love it. But part of that love comes from getting the recipe RIGHT. I mean, there are hundreds of recipes for it after all. What makes any one of them better than the next? For me…that’s getting it as close to those giant casserole dishes my grandma used to make as I can! That’s what my recipe and method is based on, and THIS involves creating a Roux to coat the cauliflower in! But don’t be intimidated by the Roux! It’s simple to make and it will make A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE in the gooeyness factor of this dish! It’s TOTALLY worth the extra effort!
Having said that, I will move directly onto the recipe.
2 heads fresh cauliflower
4 cups shredded or chopped MIXED cheese (I usually mix half and half Colby Jack and Cheddar but sometimes I add a little Gouda or Provolone or Gruyère…having more than one type of cheese is actually the key to this dish tasting so good.) *see additional note about cheese at the bottom of this post
Set 1 cup of the cheese aside for the topping.
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 stick of butter
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Roughly chop your cauliflower removing the green leaves and the hard center heart. There is no need to chop it into little pieces. The bigger your bunches are, the better. Chopping it before cooking makes a mess.
Place all of cauliflower into a pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil. Lower heat so that you have a low boil for 5 minutes. Check it every minute after this. You want to be able to easily pierce it with a fork, with an “al dente” doneness. When you achieve that, drain the cauliflower in a colander. Allow it to drain for at least 15 minutes since cauliflower really holds moisture. Place the cauliflower in a casserole dish and either using a knife and fork or your fingers if you wish, roughly chop or crumble the cauliflower into “macaroni sized pieces”. Toss the cauliflower with a splash of EVOO to keep it from sticking together and set it aside.
Place the cream cheese in a microwave safe dish and pop in in your microwave just long enough to get it to a soft stirrable consistency. (its going to get stirred into the roux)
In a skillet begin the roux. Grab a whisk! Make sure that you have all of your ingredients ready to go, this moves fast! Melt the butter over medium heat, whisk in the coconut flour, it will thicken quickly, as soon as you have it whisked in, begin to add your almond milk and cream, a little at a time to thin it back out, you want it to still have a thick, gravy like consistency in the end. Whisk in the salt, peppers and mustard. then whisk in the melted cream cheese, and the 3 cups of shredded cheese. once all the cheese are melted and blended together your roux is ready. Pour the roux over the cauliflower and stir it in, being sure to coat all of the pieces well. Top with the cheese you had set aside. (Optional: you may also sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese on top.) Bake for 30 minutes covered then uncover and bake 15 more or until golden and bubbly on top. Sometimes i set the broiler to low for a couple minutes just to give it that really golden cheesy top!
Allow to cool/set up for about 10 minutes before serving.
John still refuses to accept cauliflower as an acceptable replacement for pasta, but he IS eating it and making the best of it. He has lost close to 50 pounds since starting this Keto lifestyle and has even resolved Type II diabetes/is no longer insulin dependent.
I hope you will enjoy this recipe! I’d love to hear your comments if you try it!
*A note about the cheese: If you really want to kick this recipe up a notch, and if your local grocery store has a specialty cheese section, try making it with a good aged cheddar and other block cheeses. Grate them yourself. The difference in flavor is CRAZY DELICIOUS. Now, having said that, I don’t often have the time or energy to do that, so often i use shredded cheese from the dairy case…so don’t feel bad if you roll that way to! Either way this is a yummy recipe!