cauli and cheese (mac and cheese sauce)

I know. This recipe involves making several components in advance and it’ll be some time before the dish is ready for the table, but it is totally worth it when you sit down and have that first bite of gooey cheesy goodness!

I’ve included a super simplified version at the bottom, which will be good enough, just not as good as it can be.

Part 1: Make the cheese.
1 cup (7 ounces) zucchini, cut into chunks and steamed for 5 minutes
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon gelatin
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate until you’re ready to make the sauce.

Part 2: Saute the cauliflower.
2 cups of cauliflower florets
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or coconut aminos

Heat the oil or ghee and add the cauliflower and the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Saute over high heat until the cauliflower is translucent and a bit caramelized. Add the Worcestershire sauce and continue tossing until dry. Taste and add more salt if desired. Remove from heat and transfer to an oven-safe bowl or baking dish.

Part 3: Make the cheese sauce.
1 cup cheese (above)
2 tablespoons paleo cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 tablespoon tapioca flour

Put all of the ingredients except for the tapioca flour in a pan and bring to a simmer while stirring. Sprinkle in the tapioca flour and continue stirring for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

Part 4: Assemble.
Pour the sauce over the cauliflower, add in any optional ingredients if using (see below) and give it a quick toss to mix. Sprinkle optional toppings over the dish if using. Broil 2-3 minutes until the top is golden brown.

If you prefer baked mac and cheese over stovetop and you’re not using any toppings, you can bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Optional ingredients and toppings:
** Stir in some caramelized onions or crumbled sausage/bacon/bakkwa
** Top the dish with crispy fried shallots, dessicated coconut, crushed nuts, crushed chips and/or vegan parmesan (I used Parma Parmesan Cheese Alternative Vegan Garlicky Green)

Super simplified version:
1. Start with Part 2: Saute the cauliflower.
2. Next, go the Part 1: Make the cheese, omitting the gelatin and adding the garlic, onion, and mustard from Part 3. Blend until smooth and transfer to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat while stirring until it thickens. (If the sauce is too thick, thin it out with a little bit of coconut or hemp milk.)
3. Finally, follow steps for Part 4 as above.

Sun-dried tomato pesto version:
1. Follow Parts 1 and 2 as above.
2. For the cheese sauce, follow instructions above with the addition of 2 tablespoons of sun-dried tomato pesto.
** For this version, I usually forego the toppings and bake with a dollop of cream cheese on top for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Notes:
** Dessicated coconut is a good substitute for breadcrumbs or panko. Looks the same, crisps up the same, and it doesn’t taste coconut-y.
** You can substitute gluten-free pasta for the cauliflower. Prepare the same way: saute the pasta before adding the cheese sauce.
** For Whole30, use coconut aminos instead of Worchestershire sauce.
** For vegan, omit the gelatin and use coconut aminos instead of Worcestershire sauce.

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