Chef notes

There’s nothing better than homemade mac and cheese … especially when there’s cauliflower pureed into the sauce! Trust me — your kids will never guess there’s a vegetable snuck into this delicious meal.

Technique tip: Bring the milk to room temperature to help prevent lumps in the sauce.

Swap option: You can use cavatappi pasta instead of elbows.

Preparation

1.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 3-quart casserole dish with butter.

2.

Bring a large saucepan filled with generously salted water to a boil. Add the elbows and cook for 6 minutes (the pasta will still be very firm). Drain the pasta into a colander and rinse with cold water; let drain in the sink.

3.

Meanwhile, shred the cheese using the large holes of a box grater. Reserve 3/4 cup of each cheese.

4.

Steam the cauliflower florets in the microwave according to package directions.

5.

Carefully transfer the hot cauliflower to a blender, add 1½ cups of the milk and blend until smooth; set aside.

6.

In a large, high-sided skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour, whisk to combine and cook, constantly stirring, until frothy. Slowly add the remaining milk, whisking constantly, until combined. Add the cauliflower puree and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened. Add the non-reserved cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses and whisk until melted, then season with salt, to taste. Remove from the heat, add the pasta and stir until well combined.

7.

Transfer the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle the reserved cheddar and Monterey Jack evenly over the top and bake until golden around the edges and hot in the center, about 45 minutes (for a crispier topping, increase the oven to broil and cook until lightly golden-brown, for 2 to 3 minutes).