I frequently sing in restaurants. I rarely pay attention to the food while I sing, but yesterday my attention kept wandering toward the plates of pasta being served at the tables near me. I don’t eat pasta often these days, but today it called out to me.
When I saw the beautiful cauliflower Mark brought home from the market, I decided on a mac and cheese with a cauliflower-based sauce. The cooked lentils I had in the fridge provided inspiration to up the protein and fiber in the mac and cheese by adding some lentils to the sauce. I hadn’t made a cauliflower-based sauce in quite a while, so I checked a few recipes and then winged it.
I used an Instant Pot for the sauce: it’s soooo much faster and easier. If you don’t have an electronic pressure cooker, steam the cauliflower and onion until very tender, then mix with the other sauce ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes before blending. You may need to adjust the amount of liquid with either water or an unsweetened non-dairy milk.
I’m not a fan of breadcrumb-topped mac and cheese. If you are, sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top before baking.
I am a fan of baking the mac and cheese to give it a chewier top layer. If that’s not your thing, or if you want to cut the preparation time a bit, or if you just don’t want to turn on the oven, you can serve the mac and cheese straight from the pot after combining the pasta and sauce.
3 ½ cups cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup cashews
1 cup cooked red or brown lentils
½ onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon miso
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 pound pasta
nutritional yeast for garnish
paprika for garnish
- Place cauliflower, onion, lentils, water, cashews, garlic, and miso in the Instant Pot. Stir to combine. The water should not completely cover the other ingredients.
- Use the manual setting and cook for 6 minutes, then release the pressure.
- Add the mustard and apple cider vinegar to the pot and stir. Allow to cool a few minutes
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta. While you complete the sauce, cook the pasta until al dente, then drain. Return the pasta to the pot.
- Preheat the over to 350 degrees F.
- Carefully place the sauce ingredients in a blender jar. If you have a large jar, this amount of sauce should fit.
- Blend the sauce until it is very smooth. Adjust seasonings.
- In the pasta pot, add enough sauce to thoroughly coat the pasta. Some of the sauce will be absorbed during baking, so be generous. I used about 2/3 of the sauce for 1lb of pasta.
- Pour the saucy pasta into a baking dish. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top dries out a bit.
- Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.
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