Everyone seems to love baked, golden mac & cheese. While I love it too, I wanted to create a version of macaroni & cheese that was packed with more nutrition and would be good for a weekend night meal, not just a once in a while splurge, while still being delicious and satisfying. I was inspired by these heads of romanesco at the farmer's market, which I thought would be great with the flavors of macaroni & cheese. Romanesco is also called Romanesco broccoli or Roman cauliflower. It looks similiar to cauliflower and tastes more like cauliflower than broccoli but has a beautiful bright green color. Cauliflower would also work great in this recipe if you can't find romanesco. We ate this as a main dish with a side green salad.
Romanesco Mac & Cheese
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
12 oz. elbow macaroni or small fusilli
2 small heads romanesco (approx. 2 lbs with stems on)
3 slices whole wheat bread
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 c. grated gruyere cheese (about 6 oz.)
1 c. light sour cream
1/2 c. lowfat milk
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Boil the water for the pasta and cook the pasta until al dente.
Meanwhile, remove the stems from the romanesco, wash throroughly, and cut into small florets. Pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Add 1 T. olive oil and 1/4 t. each kosher salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Additionally, in a small saucepan, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion with a pinch of kosher salt until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the romanesco to the pasta pot for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta and romanesco and put in a large bowl. Add the onions, Gruyere cheese, sour cream, milk, 1 t. kosher salt and 1/4 pepper and stir to combine well.
Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish (oval gratin or rectangular baker), sprinkle with the parmesan cheese, and then coat with the breadcrumbs. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.