Chipotle “Mock and Cheese”

Ok, I’m super excited about this recipe. It’s at least half healthy because…it’s half cauliflower and half pasta, and it’s amazing! It’s so saucy, so spicy, and the crunch on the top…I’m dead! I don’t feel guilty eating it at all. And you can play with the proportions of pasta to cauliflower, depending on how you like it! Or omit one or the other completely. Like fine art, food is in the eye of the beholder 😉

You will need…

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower chopped into small chunks
  • 2 cups pasta, really al dente (not quite cooked through)
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 TBS flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups grated pepper jack cheese, plus a bit more for topping
  • 1/4 or 1/2 tsp ground cayenne (depending on your spice tolerance)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 TBS chopped, fresh parsley
  • crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until about halfway done. Drain and combine with the cauliflower chunks in a large mixing bowl, set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, whisk in the paprika. Add in the flour 1 tablespoon at a time to form a paste. Gradually whisk in the milk. Whisk until gently bubbling and thickened, about 5 minutes. Add in the pepper jack cheese in phases, and stir until melted into the sauce. Mix in the cayenne, salt, pepper, and parsley. Remove from the heat and taste for seasonings.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and cauliflower and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13 pan. Top with crushed tortilla chips, grated cheddar, and the remaining pepperjack.

Bake, covered with foil for 25 minutes, and then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes to brown the top. Garnish with a little cilantro for extra zippiness and pretty color. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Truly a wonderful side dish! Next time add some chunks of cooked chicken to make it a meal!

Here’s an ever-so-convenient printable!

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