This half-veggie version of macaroni and cheese became an instant favorite at our house! It's definitely still gooey, cheesy, delicious comfort-food, but it's made a little lighter by swapping out half the macaroni noodles with cauliflower! Bake in a family-sized casserole or in individual dishes. Great to make ahead and freeze!
Bring salted water to boil in 4-quart saucepan. (at least 8 cups water, 2 generous teaspoons salt). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 1 1/2 - 2 quart baking dish or 6 individual baking dishes (I use 10-ounce ramekins), placed on a baking sheet.
Add cauliflower and macaroni to boiling water and cook about 5-6 minutes or until both are just tender, but not mushy. Drain in colander and set aside. (I keep in colander while I make the cheese sauce, helps the cauliflower to drain completely.)
In same pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour, mustard powder, salt and pepper until smooth.
Add Worcestershire sauce and about 1/2 cup of the milk. Whisk until smooth. Keep adding milk, a little at a time and whisk until smooth.
Whisk the mixture over medium-low heat for a few minutes until slightly thickened - it will become "glossy" and you'll see some steam and a few tiny bubbles around the edge of the pot. (Don't boil.)
Remove from heat and stir in shredded cheeses until melted and smooth.
Stir in the drained cauliflower and macaroni and spoon into prepared baking dish(es).
Stir together the bread crumb mixture ingredients: Panko bread crumbs, Parmesan and butter. Spoon over the macaroni and cheese mixture.
Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly around the edges and bread crumbs are golden brown. (Bake individual dishes about 20-25 minutes.)
Elbow Macaroni - Elbow shaped pasta cook in about 5-7 minutes. The cauliflower cooks in the same amount of time. If you swap to another pasta variety, it may throw off the cooking time.
Make a day ahead!
Assemble (without the crumbs) & Refrigerate
Add the crumbs & bake when ready!
May need to add 5-10 minutes to bake time.
Assemble and freeze, then bake from frozen.
Place dish in cold oven and then preheat oven - so cold dish warms gradually.
Will take extra time to bake, at least an extra 15-20 min. - bake until bubbly at edges of dish. If crumbs get too brown, loosely cover with foil.
Love freezing a few of the individual servings!
Swap out cheeses:
Not a fan of Cheddar or Gruyere?
Just pick 2-cups of whatever good melting cheese(s) you like!
You can use:
Nutrition (approx. data estimated via online nutritional calculator.)