This grown-up version of the classic comfort food gets heat from cayenne, white pepper and dry mustard, and sharp flavor from extra sharp cheddar, Gouda and Parmesan, and a kick from the Chardonnay. I add cauliflower which is good on its own with the cheese sauce, and if you like, broccoli for extra color.
Preheat oven to 375◦
Serves 6 – 8
Ingredients ½ large onion (or 1 small onion)
1 large head cauliflower
1 head broccoli
2 Tb butter
1 cup elbow macaroni. I used whole wheat for extra nutrition.
1 tsp salt
Panko or regular breadcrumbs if desired
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
a few shakes cayenne to taste
¼ tsp dry mustard
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp salt
1 ¾ cups milk (I use 1%)
¼ cup dry white wine such as chardonnay
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Gouda cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in heavy frying pan. Finely chop onion and stir into butter over medium-low heat until soft. While the onions are cooking, slice cauliflower and broccoli and cut into flowerets. Stir into onion mixture and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Alternatively, you can roast the cauliflower in the oven and add to the onions and broccoli.
Boil a large pot full of water. Stir in salt and macaroni and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat until soft. Drain. Pour back into the pot. Stir the cauliflower and broccoli into the macaroni.
Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Sift in flour, cayenne, mustard, salt and white pepper, and whisk until it makes a smooth paste. Cook the roux for 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Add bay leaf. Cook this béchamel sauce for 15 minutes, whisking often.
Turn off heat. Remove bay leaf. Whisk in grated cheese until fully incorporated in sauce. Whisk in ¼ cup wine. Adjust salt and cayenne if desired.
Pour cheese sauce over macaroni and vegetables and stir until it is well combined. Spray a large casserole with non-stick spray. Pour mixture into casserole. Top with breadcrumbs or panko if desired.
Bake at 375◦ for 20 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.