It’s like veggie mac…. but sublime.
This macaroni and smoked cheese came about from a combination of different recipes I had been holding on to. What I think really makes it stand out is the combination of cheeses and the cauliflower although others have argued that the noodles help bring this macaroni to its greatness.
One things is sure, there will never be leftovers. In fact, you might love this macaroni so much that your grocery bill will actually go up because you purchase so much cheese.
When I take this dish to a pot luck I often have to swear that the pot of cheesy goodness has no meat!
Serve this family-style as a main course paired with a simple green salad.
Smoked Macaroni and Cheese
- 1-2lbs pasta. I use Trottole, they are like large spirally curly Q’s
- 1lb cauliflower, cut into bite sized or smaller pieces
- 1lb butternut squash, puréed*
*This can be frozen or fresh. Season and cook squash until tender. Puree in blender until smooth adding veggie stock/water/milk as needed.
- 2T butter or oil
- 1lg onion, diced
- 1/2t dried thyme
- 1/4c Wondra flour
- 1-2T dijon mustard
- 1T paprika
- 2-4 cups milk/cream/broth
- 1-2 lbs cheese. 2 parts smoked gouda or smoked cheddar, 1 part jack or gouda, 1 part Velveeta**
Begin by placing two large pots on the stove. Fill one with salted water for boiling noodles/cauliflower. The other is for the sauce. Bring the pasta water to a boil and drop in the pasta first. Add the cauliflower to the pasta with 2-3 minutes left to boil. When tender, drain pasta/cauliflower and reserve into large casserole dish.
Prepare the cheese sauce in the second pot. Heat the butter/oil in the pan and then add the onions. Cook over med-low heat until translucent. Using a whisk, start a roux by stirring the thyme and flour into the onions. When the flour is greasy and pasty, whisk in squash puree, mustard, and paprika. Heat until bubbling gently. Continue stirring and add 2 cups milk cooking until little bubbles collect around the edge. Stir in Cheese until melted and mostly smooth. Add up to 2 cups more of milk or cream to thin down the thick sauce. Season with salt and ground white pepper.
Top with (homemade) buttered bread crumbs and bake for 20min @ 350 or until bubbly.
A bit of advice: Always make more cheese sauce than you think is needed. The pasta will absorb more liquid as it cooks. Extra sauce and be used later on leftovers or a fresh batch of steamed veggies.
**Yes, I mean it! I find that a little bit of processed cheese food goes a long way in making a smooth creamy sauce. For such over processed unhealthiness that it is, Velveeta holds a special place in the heart of my youth. I have a love-hate relationship, my head tells me No, but my heart says Yes!
Note that I do not have exact proportions because, well…. I eye ball most of it.