Thursday, June 23, 2016

Weight Watchers Super Creamy Mac and Cheese

I didn't have any idea how this was going to go.  I mean, seriously, cauliflower instead of cheese?

Folks, as diet meals go, this isn't bad.  I was getting sort of tired of eating vegetable soup.  Yes, I like vegetable soup. Yes, it is good for me.  Yes, vegetable soup is low cal.  But, after about 8 meals of vegetable soup, I wanted something that didn't scream, "You're on a Diet!"

Enter Super Creamy Mac and Cheese, or cauliflower and cheese as I like to think of it.  This took a leap of faith on my part to make.  Why?  Because I have never.  In my entire adult life.  Purchased.  A head of cauliflower.

There, I said it.

I didn't want to buy something that most people smother in cheese to make it taste better.  But I was desperate for some comfort food. I found myself in the produce department mulling over white heads of broccoli wannabes.

Say what you will, I will make this again.

Weight Watchers Super Creamy Mac and Cheese

1 t salted butter
1/3 c Panko breadcrumbs
2 T grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 head uncooked cauliflower (2 lbs)
4 medium uncooked carrots, thinly sliced
1 c reduced sodium vegetable broth
1/4 c low fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
1.5 t Dijon mustard
1/2 c low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, sharp variety recommended, divided
1.5 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded (1/4 cup)
1 t table salt
1/4 t hot pepper sauce
8 oz uncooked macaroni
2 sprays cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil.

Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat; add panko and cook, stirring occasionally until toasted, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to small bowl and let cool; stir in Pecorino and set aside.  (Just as a head's up here, I didn't use this butter and I didn't toast my panko.  I simply sprinkled the panko mixture on the top of the casserole once I got to that point.  I'm not washing more dishes.)

Cut 3 cups small florets from cauliflower; set aside.  I used 4.  Cauliflower is BIG.  Cut remaining cauliflower (including stem) into 2 inch pieces.  Add cauliflower pieces and carrots to boiling water; cook until very tender, 10-12 minutes.  I forgot to set the timer, so it went 20.  No biggie.

Meanwhile, combine broth, cream cheese, mustard, 1/4 c cheddar, gruyere, salt, and pepper sauce in a large blender.  With a large slotted spoon, transfer cooked vegetables to blender, puree into a creamy sauce.  Can we say thank goodness for the Ninja blender?

Add pasta to same pot of boiling water; cook half the time of package directions, adding reserveed cauliflower florets during last minute of cooking.  Drain pasta and cauliflower, return to pot and stir in pureed sauce.

Coat a 2.5 quarter shallow baking dish with cooking spray; spoon pasta mixture into prepared pan in an even layer.  Sprinkle dish with remaining 1/4 c cheddar and reserved crumb mixture; bake until golden on top, 25-30 minutes.

Here's what you get.

Serving size: 1 c.
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 6

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