Thursday, March 4, 2010

cauliflower mac and cheese

picky eaters or not, children have such an instinctive distaste for this vegetable and its relatives, it's like an international conspiracy is imbeded in their genetic code. i am one of the few spared. as i kid i loved it fried, in a light batter of egg and flour, and my mother's cauliflower gratin qualified as holiday. i tried them all, plus soups and stews for zhara, but i can beg till the cows come home. she just says no, in a voice very much prophesizing the teenager she'll be. well, she may be stubborn, but i have decades of practice on her.

the ideea is to make a fine cauliflower puree which then goes in your kid's favourite pasta sauce. i've made this a few times to get it right, and for zhara it only works if i use a sauce mornay made with munchee - it's the only cheese she'll eat. we also use miniature pasta, she's just more amenable especially if they have cute shapes, like animal or letters. 

i don't know if you can tell looking at the picture, but it's all bite size, the penne are less than 1 inch, and the meatballs are barely the size of a quarter. so first you break the cauliflower into small florets and you boil it until easily pierced with a fork. while it boils, prep your sauce and boil the pasta. you can either do a bechamel, by making a roux out 2 tb each butter and flour and then streaming in 1 cup milk, or you can use jarred alfredo sauce. either way, add to it 1/2 cup packed grated cheese. when it's melted add the cauliflower puree, season with salt and pepper and pinch of italian seasoning. i have to use equal quatities of sauce and cauliflower puree, any less sauce and she won't eat it. one cup sauce plus one cup puree is sufficient for 3/4 lb pasta. 

zhara enjoys it very much. she ate so much of it for lunch that she couldn't touch her usual second course of fresh fruit. the meatballs didn't fly, but i don't care, this is still such progress for her!


  1. I love this simple, yet fabulous looking dish. The tomato-rose is a touch of class. I had made spinach chicken last week and tried my hand at making these roses..took pictures of my dish but hesitating to post cause I sucked at making the roses. Yours look very professional! A job well done!

  2. Oh, I could eat that right now! The rose makes me smile. Not to harp the sex differences, but I had to cut toast into gun shapes for my boys.. :)

  3. What a cute little girl! She looks like she's enjoying her meal :) The pasta sounds quite good too, I'll have to make this for my 3 yr old soon! Thanks for the good idea!

  4. This sounds absolutely delicious. Your little girl is adorable!

  5. hey cool lassi(e), thanks for being so kind, but they're not all that great, the tomato was getting soft and that made it hard to work with it. zhara is always so thrilled when i add frills that it's absolutely worth the extra attention.

    celia, i'm often reminded of it! i was such a tomboy and i don't really have patience for girly stuff, and she's already such a princess...

    thanks andrea, i hope your kid likes it!

    kathleen, that's very nice of you to say, thanks a lot

  6. Ce frumoas ae fetica ta :)sa-ti traiasaca

    si ce bine arat platoul !!!
    Hi ,te asteapta niste premi la mine pe blog de 8 Martie daca iti face palcere sa-l ridici de primavara

  7. Zhara is so adorable..and it's a wonderful dish there. Liked your tomato rose too :-)

  8. Score one for Mom! Great way to incorporate cauliflower - I bet it'd work for grownups, too ;)Love the little meatballs and the tomato rose!

  9. anca, mersi mult, vin la tine cu drag, dar despre premii am tot explicat de ce nu pot primi, am pus un mic anunt si pe pagina... mersi ca te-ai gandit la mine!

    simply life and gulmohar, thank you both very much!!

    karen, i really liked the meatballs and zhara usually eats them, but this time i guess she was too full. i added finely grated carrot and minced onion to the meat, maybe a little more than 1/4 cup per lb and it was a great flavour! typically i would sautee the onion first, but i was in a hurry so i minced it almost into a paste and it worked nicely.

  10. bonjour dana,
    j'étais entrain de me balader dans ton blog et soudain je tombe sur les magnifiques brioches que tu as réalisé, je t'en félicite c'est magnifique
    je t'ai laissé un commentaire sur la recette des brioches
    bonne journée

  11. Dana, I liked the tomato rose.. wish i could be good at it!.. Zhara is so sweet.. difficult to believe she is a picky eater..

  12. fimere, merci beaucoup!

    uma, use your veggie peeler to peel a long strip, and then just roll it up. if you peel it thin and sort of careless, with uneven edges, it will be much easier than any other method. roll it tight, then while holding the lower part gently give the base a little push upward. then curve the 'petals' outwards. use a firm tomato. and thanks, zhara has her good days, but mostly we struggle - she still won't eat potatoes nor any meat or seafood. xo!

  13. Dana te rog sami expici si mie sa stiu :) d ec enu poti sa ai premii :) pe cuarnd

  14. hi anca, e cum am scris si pe home page: pur si simplu nu am timp de postari individuale pentru premii. si asa o gramada de mancare ramane nepovestita, si daca accept unul apoi tre si pe restu, si tot asa. apreciez intentia :) sper sa intelegi! te pup


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