With over 14 grams of protein per serving this cauliflower mac and cheese is the perfect comfort food, you can feel good about enjoying regularly!
What is it about cold, snowy weather that just makes us want to curl up by the fire with a warm bowl of comfort food? Before you rush to the cupboard to whip of a blue box of the orange stuff, I urge you to give this dish a try. As a busy working from home mother of a 5 month old, I can tell you that this dish only took 20 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to bake. If I hadn’t been interrupted by my son at the end of the meal, I could have easily eaten the entire pan. It is just that good.
The only thing more comforting than a bowl of creamy mac and cheese is a bowl of creamy mac and cheese that won’t land on your hips. Don’t worry, where this dish lacks in fat and calories it far than makes up for in flavor. My secret? An entire head of cauliflower is steamed then pureed with tangy dijon, fresh garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano and extra sharp cheddar cheese.
Before you ask, let me calm your fears: no, you do not taste the cauliflower. Trust me, my husband would have been the first to tell me. In fact, he doesn’t even like mac and cheese but he loved this version.
The best part? Each serving is only 300 calories and is loaded in protein, fiber, calcium and over a day’s worth of Vitamin C! Here are some of the perks of this dish:
Freebie Flavor Boosters: Garlic and Dijon mustard have very minimal calories but add a ton of extra flavor.
Cauliflower: By adding a head of cauliflower to the cheese sauce, you gain tons of nutrients and bulk without many calories and zero fat.
Skim Milk: Who said you need whole milk to make a cheese sauce?
By using whole wheat shells, the dish gets an added dose of protein and fiber that will help keep you satisfied on a smaller portion. In fact, with over 14 grams of protein per serving this pasta would be a perfect meatless entree served with a side salad.
Your fork is waiting.
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Panko Topping
- 4 cups cooked whole wheat pasta shells (or short pasta of choice)
- 1 head cauliflower (cut into florets)
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2.5 ounces sharp cheddar
- 1 clove garlic (grated)
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
- Steam cauliflower until tender, about 8-10 minutes then remove from pan and set aside.
- Whisk together milk and flour in a sauce pot over medium heat until mixture starts to thicken, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add grated cheddar, garlic, dijon, nutmeg, salt and cayenne and whisk until cheese is melted. Stir in the steamed cauliflower and yogurt then puree until smooth with an immersion blender or pulse until smooth in a blender or food processor.
- Add noodles and check for seasoning before pouring into a casserole baking dish.
- In a small bowl, mix together panko, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the noodles then bake for 15-20 minutes or until topping turns golden brown.
For more healthy and easy dinner recipes, check out my Pinterest board!