Who doesn’t love Mac and Cheese? This version is super healthy, packed with veggies, and easily made dairy-free. But most importantly, Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is super yummy! Whether you simply stir the creamy, flavorful sauce into cooked pasta or add some extra cheese on top and bake it in the oven, this dish is sure to be a hit with the whole family!
Making Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Kids:
- Hands-on! Kids can help break apart the head of garlic and pull off the whole cloves you’ll need for the recipe. The cauliflower can also easily be broken apart into florets. Cut the whole head into large florets then let your child break them apart into smaller pieces to place on the roasting pan.
- Drizzle the oil and sprinkle the salt over the cauliflower. Mix and spread ingredients out on the baking pan.
- Blend! Kids can help measure ingredients into the blender and will love to help turn the blender on and off.
- Taste test! It’s so important to teach kids to taste and adjust the seasoning of our food. Set aside a bite of the Mac and cheese to cool slightly. Once cool ask your child to taste the pasta or if your child doesn’t want to try it, model taste testing yourself. Ask questions: “Does it need more salt? Some pepper? Would we like some extra cheese?” Recipes are just a starting point and we want kids to know everyone can adjust food to make it taste good to us.
Subs and Tips:
- Dairy-free? Make sure to use your favorite, unsweetened dairy-free milk (unsweetened almond milk works well). Use a cream cheese alternative like Kite Hill or Daiya brands or you can leave this component out and just use little extra plant based milk. Want to make the baked version? Broil the top to get a yummy crust without any cheese or add some dairy-free shredded cheese to get the full affect of a cheesy layer.
- Pasta! We love to use Banza chickpea pasta for some extra fiber and protein, but feel free to use whatever kind of pasta your family loves. You could also toss spaghetti in the creamy sauce and sprinkle a little grated Parmesan on top. Yum!
- Add more veggies! This pasta dish would also be great with some peas, cooked broccoli, or chopped baby spinach stirred in. Great way to use any leftover vegetables you might have in the fridge. You could also double down on the roasted cauliflower and reserve some of the roasted florets to stir in to the pasta at the end.
- Roasting the garlic and cauliflower intensifies the flavor of both ingredients and adds a natural sweetness that kids will love. You want the garlic and cauliflower to get really nice and golden brown but not black so keep on eye on it in the oven.
- Make ahead? The stove-top version of this recipe is best eaten right away. However, if you want to make this recipe ahead of time, the baked version will keep well in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for up to a month.
Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- 3 to 4 large garlic cloves not peeled
- 1 small head cauliflower cut into small florets
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 8 ounces small-shaped pasta, any kind such as shells, fusilli, or elbow
- 3/4 cup milk any kind
- 1/4 cup cream cheese or non-dairy alternative
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchement paper for easy clean-up or lightly grease the pan.
- Place garlic cloves and cauliflower onto the sheet pan, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with a large pinch of salt. Toss with your hands to combine then spread the cauliflower into an even layer. Roast until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
- While cauliflower is roasting, cook pasta. Drain and return to the pot. If using a lentil or bean based pasta, I find it best to rinse the pasta and pot with warm water after draining. Set aside until sauce is done.
- Remove pan from oven and set aside. Once cool enough to handle, peel garlic cloves and discard the skin. Add garlic, roasted cauliflower, milk, and cream cheese to a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add additional milk a little at a time if more liquid is needed to make a thick but pourable sauce. Taste then season with additional salt and pepper.
- Pour sauce onto cooked pasta and stir to coat. Re-warm pasta over low heat, if necessary. Serve immediately or stir in grated cheese for some extra creaminess.
- For Baked Mac and Cheese: Grease a baking dish (9-inch square, round, or individual ramekins all work well) with olive oil. Once pasta and sauce are combined, spoon the mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle cheese on top, if using, then broil the top until browned and bubbly. Serve warm.
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