CAULIFLOWER MACARONI AND CHEESE (with fontina and gouda cheeses, for six)
For the topping:
¼ stick (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or coarse, dry bread crumbs
1 cup shredded Gouda (about 4 ounces)
¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
salt and pepper to taste
For the cheese sauce and macaroni:
8 ounces pancetta, julienned
3 cups roasted cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
4 to 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2¾ cups whole milk
¾ cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded Gouda (about 1 pound)
2 cups shredded Fontina (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ pound elbow macaroni
1. Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 400*. Butter a 3 quart shallow baking dish. Cut a round of waxed paper the same diameter as the inside of the 4 quart pot in which you will make the cheese sauce.
2. Make the topping: Stir together butter, panko, cheese, parsley and salt and pepper in a bowl until well combined.
3. Make the sauce: In a 12 inch skillet, cook the pancetta until crispy, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
4. Melt butter in a 4 quart heavy pot over moderately low heat. Whisk in flour and red pepper flakes and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes to make a roux. Whisk in milk in a slow stream, then bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. (The sauce may bubble up as it reaches the boil. Whisk it rapidly and turn the heat down to prevent overflow.) Simmer, whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in cream, cheeses, mustard, salt and pepper. Remove pot from heat and cover surface of sauce with the prepared round of waxed paper to prevent a skin from forming.
5. Cook the macaroni and assemble the dish: Cook macaroni in a 6 quart pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for every 4 quarts water) until al dente (7 to 8 minutes for Barilla elbows). Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain macaroni.
6. Stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water, sauce, cauliflower and pancetta in a large bowl, then transfer to baking dish (mixture will be loose).
7. Sprinkle topping evenly over macaroni. Bake until top is golden and bubbling, 25 to 35 minutes.
adapted from the Williams Sonoma Kitchen