Sunday, April 09, 2017

Very Veggie Pesach 2017: Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cauliflower is the trendy low-carb, gluten-free substitute that is found on recipe sites everywhere these days. I've seen a few cauliflower macaroni and cheese recipes, so I decided to try a variation for Passover. My only concern was that this seems a bit too much like a side dish: I routinely make broccoli with cheese sauce as a side dish, and it didn't seem very different from that. To make it seem more like a main course, I made it as a baked mac and cheese, and it worked very well! I also tried topping it with 1/4 cup of crushed almonds as a gluten-free crust, but I wasn't crazy about how that worked; you're welcome to try it yourself (or 1/4 cup matzah meal, which is KFP but isn't gluten-free).

This recipe is not vegan (contains milk and cheese) but is non-gebrochts and gluten-free (does not contain matzah).

I have one more recipe idea in mind this year, a dessert option that contains matzah so I can't test the recipe until after the first night seder. I'll let you know one way or another after I try it.

Ingredients

  • Florets chopped from 1 small head of cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. potato starch
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Kashrut Notes

  • Cauliflower is fresh produce, which is not a Passover problem according to the Star-K website. But check it carefully for bugs, which are not kosher.
  • Milk does not require Passover certification if it is purchased before the holiday begins.
  • Butter: Requires Passover certification. Breakstone's salted and unsalted whipped butter are commonly available in stores marked Kosher for Passover.
  • Potato starch requires Passover certification. Manischewitz and Gefen make a kosher-for-Passover potato starch that is available in better Passover aisles. They are also available on Amazon.com but only in multi-packs: ManischewitzGefen.
  • Cheese requires Passover certification. Les Petites Fermieres makes excellent kosher cheeses if you can find them; I find them at Wegmans. Make sure it's certified for Passover; it isn't always. The traditional kosher cheese brand, Millers, is more widely available, and is always kosher for Passover.

Preparation

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (note that this is higher than usual)
  • Break off the cauliflower florets and cut the larger ones into relatively small pieces. Ideally, they should suggest the size of elbow macaroni. Rinse well, drain, and spread into an 8x8 baking pan.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan (2 quarts)
  • Add potato starch gradually, mixing until blended.  This mixture of fat and starch is called a roux (pronounced: roo), and is the thickening agent in many recipes
  • Stir in the milk gradually.  Allow the roux to spread through the liquid without clumping; break up any clumps you see.
  • Add cheese and stir until the cheese melts. If the sauce is too thin, continue stirring until it thickens. You may need to raise the heat a bit.
  • Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the cauliflower in the baking pan
  • Bake for about 30-45 minutes, until the top starts to brown

Time-Saving Alternative

If you are in a rush and don't want to take the time to bake it in the oven, boil the cauliflower for about 3 minutes (don't make it too soft), drain it, put it in a bowl, pour the cheese over it and stir. This is the way you probably make macaroni and cheese normally, and it saves a lot of time. I think the baking gives it more of a feel of a main course rather than a side dish, but it tastes pretty much the same either way.