Side-by-Side: Cauliflower and Mac and Cheese


cc Muffet

Can cauliflower replace mac and cheese?

I could not believe what I was hearing. The dLife chef was saying that cauliflower can take the place of mac and cheese. Really?

How could all that bubbly yumminess be replaced by a vegetable?

The recipe  for Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese” is simple enough: Steam a whole head of cauliflower, put it in a souffle dish, cover with a mixture of mayonnaise and yellow mustard then top with grated Parmesan, and bake until the cheese is brown.

I was still feeling doubtful. Yellow mustard? Grated Parmesan? But I trudged on…

The only way to truly answer the question is to taste Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese” next to regular mac and cheese. You know, the kind with noodles in it.

I chose a recipe from the Tasty Kitchen section of The Pioneer Woman blog called Easy Italian Mac and Cheese. This is a healthier mac and cheese with vegetables (spinach and tomatoes) and grated cheese instead of a butter laden cheese sauce. I also used a multigrain pasta that includes Omega 3 (from flaxseed) and more fiber than regular pasta.

So I made both dishes for dinner and we tried them side-by-side. How did the Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese” measure up ? 

Taste-wise the yellow mustard overpowered the flavor—mustard is not a flavor I think of when I think of mac and cheese. Some of the grated Parmesan fell to the bottom of the dish where it caramelized instead of melting over the cauliflower head—kind of reminded me of the cheese packets that come with delivery pizza. The texture was good—reminiscent of traditional mac and cheese. Biting into the steamed cauliflower was like biting into a forkful of cooked noodles.

Taste-wise the Italian Mac and Cheese was much more satisfying. The sweetness of the tomato and sauteed onions countered the multigrain noodles. It was cheesy and comforting. And by using multigrain noodles and limiting the portion size I was able to make it more diabetic friendly.

The Italian Mac and Cheese said it would make 8 portions. I don’t know what kind of farm hands they were feeding over there, but I divided it up into 10 portions which were still plenty generous.

I’m sorry cauliflower, but you just don’t measure up. I’m sticking with the noodle-based mac and cheese.