This Cauliflower Sauce Mac and Cheese is a lightened-up version of macaroni and cheese, with more nutrients and all of the cheesy, gooey flavor you love. Crispy, salty pancetta and peas finish this comforting baked dish.
For the Cauliflower Sauce:
- 1 medium head of cauliflower
- 1 cup 2% milk (or more if needed)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Heavy pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Sea salt + pepper, to taste
For the Pasta:
- 1 pound whole wheat fusilli pasta
- 4 ounces cubed pancetta
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 heaping cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 3/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
Make the Cauliflower Sauce:
- Chop cauliflower and cook in salted, boiling water until fork-tender. Drain.
- In a blender, blend the cooked cauliflower with 1 cup of 2% milk.
- Pour the cauliflower mixture into a large sauce pan. Stir in the Dijon mustard, sea salt, pepper, and a heavy pinch of nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan and slowly incorporate the cheddar cheese. Stir until completely melted.
- If the mixture is too thick, add more milk. This will depend on the size of your head of cauliflower. Set the sauce aside.
Assemble the Pasta:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In the meantime, heat a saute pan. Cook the cubed pancetta until crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and set aside. In the pancetta fat, saute the garlic and shallot until softened, but not browned. Add back to the pancetta.
- Cook the frozen peas in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. (Drain into an ice bath to stop the cooking process, if desired.)
- Combine the pasta, pancetta mixture, and peas. Pour in the sauce and mix well to combine. Gently mix in the fresh parsley. (Remember, all cauliflower are different sizes, so if your sauce is too thick, just add more milk.)
- Pour the pasta into a large baking dish.
Make the Topping:
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan and add in the breadcrumbs. Toast slightly until browned. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle the topping evenly over the pasta. Bake the pasta for 15 minutes, or until bubbling and browned.