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Bacon Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Meryl Downing
Bacon Cauliflower Mac & Cheese is the perfect variation to the classic comfort food. This basic recipe is so versatile and allows for substitutions, giving you a complete, well-rounded, and healthier Mac & Cheese night every time!
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb macaroni or any short pasta
  • 4 strips bacon chopped, do not discard fat (or use 3 T butter if not using bacon)
  • 1 T butter
  • 4 c cauliflower diced very small (about ½ to 1 head depending on size)
  • ¼ t kosher salt
  • ¼ c flour
  • 4 c milk whole is best but any will work
  • ¼ t kosher salt
  • 6 grinds fresh black pepper
  • 3 c shredded cheese (I used a combination of cheddar, provolone, and Parmesan)-divided
  • 1 c buttered Panko bread crumbs optional

Instructions
 

  • Prepare all ingredients before you start. Chop bacon and cauliflower, measure flour and milk and shred cheese. When you are making your sauce you can keep your eyes on it!
  • Set water to boil, add a pinch of salt and cook pasta following package instructions. Drain and reserve.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot or dutch oven (big enough to toss sauce with pasta), over medium heat, add chopped bacon and saute until fully cooked and crispy, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer bacon to a dish and reserve, keep the fat in the pot.
  • Add 1 T butter and the cauliflower to the bacon fat and saute about 6 minutes, stirring often. Season with ¼ t salt.
  • Add flour and stir to combine for about 1 minute.
  • Add milk, salt and pepper. Let the milk cook on medium, stirring often, about 7 to 8 minutes until thickened.
  • Add about ⅔'s of the cheese and whisk to combine. Add the bacon and drained pasta and mix well.
  • Transfer to a baking dish or just bake in the pot it's in. Top with remaining cheese (and bread crumbs mixed with ½T of melted butter if using).
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then broil 1 or 2 minutes to brown the bread crumbs. Watch closely so it doesn't burn! Serve with a green salad, enjoy!
Keyword baked pasta, easy pasta, mac&cheese