Friday, September 23, 2011

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

So it's no secret around here that I'm a big Jamie Oliver fan,  I may have mentioned him once or twice. So you can just imagine my excitement when my good friend Lena told me that he has a new show called Jamie's 30-minute meals. How exciting is that?

The main idea of his show is to be able to cook a full meal in well under 30 minutes. And by meal he actually means a main course, a side, usually a salad and a dessert as well. After watching several episodes I think it may be slightly ambitious to think I could do all that in under 30 minutes while also watching a 1 year old so I decided to start small and cook a main course from one of his episodes cauliflower mac and cheese - a healthy twist on the comfort food classic. 

So I gathered my ingredients and set things up beforehand like he suggests - kettle full of water and set on boil, pans out, chopping block and knives ready and food processor out and ready to go. I was ready as I would ever be. So I set my timer and went to work. I was fairly surprised when I managed to get the dish into the oven in about 11 minutes flat. Wow! I didn't think I had it in me. And it was cooked and ready to eat in about another 15 minutes as well. So it is possible to make a meal quickly afterall.

I made a few variations from Jamie's recipe - he puts crispy bacon into the topping which I omitted, although I'm sure that would make the topping even better. He also used creme fraiche which I could not find at my local grocery store and so I substituted in plain, thick greek yogurt. Also, I apologize big time for giving measurements in weights but unfortunately that is what Jamie did on the show. Sadly I don't own a kitchen scale and so I approximated the weights based on the weight given on the front of the package. 

Nonetheless, the end result was a yummy, creamy mac and cheese with a healthy twist  of added cauliflower. I ended up making 2 small pans and froze the second pan (uncooked) for another evening when I don't have 30 minutes:)

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (serves 6)
adapted slightly from Jamie Oliver's 30-minutes-meals

200g cheddar
a handful of fresh basil (fresh oregano or thyme would also work well)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
250g plain greek yogurt
about 2 cups starch water from the pasta
4 slices old bread
salt and pepper
1 head cauliflower (quartered)
1 package whole wheat macaroni

1. Fill Kettle with water and turn on. Once water is boiled add to a pan with quartered cauliflower and the package of macaroni. Cook together until pasta is almost cooked. Remove pasta and cauliflower and keep starchy water that it cooked in.

2. Meanwhile, make the bread topping - In a food processor place your bread, 1 clove garlic, handful of basil (or other fresh herb), olive oil, pepper and pulse until you have a nice crumbly like consistency.

3. Place cooked pasta and caulflower into a baking pan and next use a potato masher and quickly mash the cauliflower slightly to break it up.

4. Add to your pasta in the baking pan the 250g yogurt, 200g cheddar also grated in the food processor (if you have that attachment), 1 clove minced garlic and add 1 cup of the leftover starch water that the pasta cooked into. Stir until you have a nice creamy consistency. Add more starchy water if you need it. I used about 2 cups I think.

5. Spread crumb topping on top and cook at 375 degrees until the cheese starts to bubble. 

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