Monday, 6 October 2014

Mushroom & Cauliflower Macaroni & Cheese

Hey! I'm back. Life has been very busy lately, what with the end of the gardening season being upon us, and family life continuing to be as busy and complicated as ever. Still, I've managed to have a little outburst of cooking lately, so I have a few things to post.

As for this dish; well, it's macaroni and cheese! With mushrooms and cauliflower! How could you go wrong? You couldn't! This was very much enjoyed, and so I should think. The vegetables cut down the amount of pasta in this dish compared to my usual Macaroni and Cheese, but it's still thoroughly rich. The crumb topping is not absolutely required, but I thought it added a delightful crispy texture. The Colby cheese is also a change from my usual Cheddar cheese, and it worked very well, providing a good cheesy texture and flavour, but not so strong as to overwhelm the vegetables.

6 to 8 servings
2 hours - 1 hour prep time

Mushroom & Cauliflower Macaroni & Cheese

Make the Sauce:
500 grams (1 pound) Colby cheese
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk

Cut the cheese into slices and set aside. 

Melt the butter and flour together in a large saucepan, and cook for 3 or 4 minutes over medium heat, until the flour browns slightly. Stir frequently. Slowly mix in the milk, a few tablespoons at a time, to make a smooth paste. Once it is thin enough to flow easily mix in the remainder of the milk. Continue to cook the sauce, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Stir in the cheese, a few slices at a time, until melted. Once they are all in remove the pot from the stove and set it aside until needed.

Sauté the Mushrooms:
225-250 grams (1/2 pound) oyster or button mushrooms
1 medium onion
1/4 cup minced chives
1/4 cup minced parsley
a sprig each of dill and mint (optional)
2 tablespoons butter

Clean and trim the mushrooms, and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Peel and chop the onion. Wash, drain well, and mince the herbs.

Heat the butter in a large skillet, and cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat until softened and lightly browned in spots. Add the onion about halfway through the cooking process, and the herbs at the end to be cooked for just a minute or two. Add the mushrooms to the pot of cheese sauce.

Finish the Dish:
3 cups cauliflower florets (1/2 smallish cauliflower)
225 to 250 grams (1/2 pound) macaroni or other short, stubby pasta
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs

Wash, trim and chop the cauliflower into fairly small florets. (I do this just before I do the mushrooms, so that the macaroni and cauliflower can cook at the same time as the mushrooms.) Put a large pot of salted water on to boil, in which to cook the macaroni and cauliflower.

Preheat the oven to 350°F

When the water boils, cook the macaroni for about 2/3 of the time recommended on the package. Add the cauliflower to it when it has 5 or 6 minutes more to cook.

Drain the macaroni and cauliflower well, and toss them with the sauce and mushrooms in a 2.5 to 2 quart shallow baking pan - a 9" x 13" lasagne pan would work well. Mix the grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs and sprinkle them evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese.

Bake the macaroni and cheese at 350°F, for about 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbling.

No comments: