Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Chicken Sausage
- 1/2 head cauliflower, cored and broken into florets (about 3 cups)
- 2 cup water
- 2 cup skim milk, divided
- 8 oz whole wheat medium shells (penne or fusilli also work well)
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 cup grated provolone cheese, divided
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 links spicy chicken sausage, diced
If you appreciate a good mac even half as much as Logan does, you’re going to be all over this cheesy casserole, which gets a nutritious makeover thanks to whole-grain pasta, lean chicken sausage, and the magic of cauliflower puree. (Relax, unless you have an unbelievably sophisticated palate, you won’t even taste the cauliflower).
- Combine the cauliflower florets, water, and 1 cup of the milk in a Dutch oven or medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is very tender.
- Meanwhile, bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until a few minutes shy of al dente. (You want it undercooked and still firm, dudes—it’s going to cook more in the oven.) Drain and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F
- Drain the cauliflower, discarding the cooking liquid, and transfer to a blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth; you should have a little more than 1 cup of puree. Return the cauliflower puree to the Dutch oven over medium-low heat and whisk in the remaining 1 cup milk, Dijon, salt, and cayenne. Slowly add ¾ cup of the cheddar, ¾ cup of the provolone, and the Parmesan and whisk until the cheese has completely melted and the sauce is nice and smooth.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the diced chicken sausage and cook for 5 to 6 minutes until lightly browned.
- Stir the chicken sausage into the cauliflower cheese sauce. Taste and season with a little extra salt and cayenne if necessary, then stir in the pasta.
- Transfer everything to a 9 x 9-inch baking dish or a 10- to 12-inch ovenproof skillet. (It will seem like there is too much sauce, but the pasta will soak up a lot of it in the oven. Go with it.) Top with the remaining ¼ cup cheddar and ¼ cup provolone.
- 3 tbsp whole wheat panko bread crumbs
- 11/2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the topping. Sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese in an even layer.
- Transfer the casserole to the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling slightly. Serve hot, and try not to hyperventilate.
Can't get enough? Check out Serena Wolf's new cookbook, The Dude Diet: Clean(ish) Food for People Who Like to Eat Dirty for more mouth-watering recipes!