A rich and creamy sauce made from cauliflower is the base for this delicious, gluten-free pasta casserole.
Mac and Cheese in Cauliflower Sauce is so incredibly rich and creamy, you’ll be hard-pressed to believe that the sauce is made mostly from vegetables! This dish, for the most part, gets its fabulous taste and texture from cauliflower that has been pureed along with vegetable stock. There’s still plenty of cheese is this recipe – it is, after all, mac and cheese – but not as much milk/cream as a traditional mac and cheese, and no flour. I’ve kept this delicious casserole gluten-free by using red lentil pasta and gluten-free bread crumbs. Mac and Cheese in Cauliflower Sauce is so delicious and easy to make that I doubt I’ll ever make traditional mac and cheese again!
Like most food bloggers, I love following food trends and trying new and creative recipes. I first learned about an amazing alfredo-like sauce for pasta made from cauliflower on the food blog Pinch of Yum. After seeing this, I was inspired to create a mac and cheese casserole using cauliflower instead of the traditional roux that is used to thicken the sauce for mac and cheese. Believe it or not, the taste of cauliflower in this dish is barely detectable. Instead, the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses really shine through to give you classic mac and cheese taste in each comforting bite.
Most of the recipes I’ve seen for cauliflower sauce use fresh cauliflower but I like the convenience of using frozen cauliflower and find it less messy to work with. Feel free to substitute fresh cauliflower if you like. I also opted to add grape tomatoes to this dish. While not a typical ingredient in mac and cheese, tomatoes and cheese go so well together and I like the pop of color they provide. If you’re not keen on tomatoes, leave them out or substitute an equal amount of something else. You could add frozen peas, sun-dried tomatoes, or chunks of cooked broccoli – those would all work well and taste great in Mac and Cheese in Cauliflower Sauce.
Be careful what type of gluten-free pasta you use for Mac and Cheese in Cauliflower Sauce. Some gluten-free pastas are delicate and break apart easily when cooked. I had good results using red lentil pasta in this recipe. The pasta held its shape nicely without breaking up. Dollops of crème fraiche on top of each slice just prior to serving add a cool and creamy tang and provide a nice contrast to the other flavors in this dish. If you like cauliflower, check out these other dishes – Cauliflower Monte Cristo Sandwich, Shaved Brussels Sprouts Over Crispy Cauliflower Cakes, Baby Kale Caesar Salad with Cauliflower Fritters, Sweet Potato Cauliflower Cakes with Dairy-Free Cashew Sour Cream, and Cauliflower Roulade.
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 pound frozen cauliflower florets
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup milk
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
- 1 pound gluten-free pasta (red lentil pasta works well)
- 2 cups/5 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
- 8 ounces crème fraiche
- Fresh or freeze dried chives (optional garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a large casserole dish (at least 9 in. x 13 in.) with olive oil cooking spray.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to a blender or food processor. Cook cauliflower according to the package directions and, using a slotted spoon to drain off any excess water, transfer to the blender/food processor. Add the vegetable stock, Parmesan, garlic, milk, salt, and pepper. Process until you have a smooth, fully puréed sauce.
- Melt the remaining butter (2 tablespoons) and combine it with the bread crumbs in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions minus 2 minutes. Rinse and drain under cold water and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the cheddar, tomatoes, and cauliflower sauce and combine thoroughly. Transfer to the casserole dish and sprinkle on the bread crumbs.
- Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 30 minutes.
- Put dollops of creme fraiche on top of each serving. Garnish with chives if desired.
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