This is the season in my life when people I know start having babies. It's exciting and also enormously mind-boggling at the same time. As someone who doesn't have children, I have very little understanding of what is required post partem. Sam even asked me "What time will the baby arrive?"... It seems we have a lot to learn before going down that road ourselves. But something I do know is that new parents still have to eat despite the living breathing baby that requires their utmost attention. The last thing on their mind should be the dreaded question what's for dinner? The gift of food is something they'll appreciate more than anything after many sleepless nights and working very hard to figure out how to care for another human who wakes them up on the hour. I brought this recipe to some friends after they brought their baby home from the hospital. It's perfect for reheating in the oven, plus it makes two 8x8 pans. One for you, and one for your friends. And this is some real deal comfort food. It's simple and delicious. Something you can eat right out of the pan if you're feeling lazy.
This recipe is easy as can be. Gather your ingredients, and you're on the road to a simple comforting pasta.
First, you'll boil some water while you roast the cauliflower until browns and is fork tender.
Boil your pasta until al dente. While that cooks, you'll make a roux with flour and butter, adding milk and cream with cheese and thyme until you have a deliciously cheesy bechamel sauce. Drain your pasta, put it in your prepped pans with cauliflower and pour the sauce over.
Mix together your panko breadcrumbs with fresh thyme, parmesan, and salt and pepper and sprinkle over your pasta. Drizzle on some olive oil and bake about 10-15 minutes until crisp. It's easy!
I hope you like the recipe below! We all need to be more giving, so grab a couple of pans, and give someone you love the gift of dinner. Let me know what you think.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND THYME BAKED MACARONI AND CHEESE RECIPE
makes 2 8x8 pans or 1 9x14 pan, serves 4
1 lb macaroni or other pasta
1 large cauliflower head
1 tbsp olive oil plus some for drizzling
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp butter plus one tbsp for greasing
3 tbsp flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 cups grated gruyere or mature cheddar
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, stems removed
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 F. In a large pot over high heat, boil 4 quarts of salted water. Remove cauliflower leaves and stem and cut into 1 inch florets. Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil on a large baking sheet. Add the cauliflower florets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes.
While cauliflower bakes, to make the topping, add panko bread crumbs, parmesan, 1 tbsp of the thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper to a small bowl. Mix together until combined. Set aside.
Once your water is boiling, add the macaroni. Boil 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain in a colander. Grease two 8x8 pans or a 9x14 pan with 1 tbsp butter. Add pasta and roasted cauliflower to the pans.
In a small saucepan, add the remaining 3 tbsp butter over medium high heat and melt. Once the butter froths, add the flour, stirring until combined. Turn down to low. Immediately add the cream and milk, stirring until the flour mixture is less lumpy. Add the cheese and remaining thyme leaves, stirring until cheese is melted and the cheese sauce is warm. Salt and pepper the sauce to taste.
Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni cauliflower mixtures, distributing evenly between the two pans. Sprinkle the topping over both pans. Drizzle the olive oil over both pans lightly. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the topping has browned. Serve hot.