Homestyle Mac and Cheeese with Cauliflower

Hot and bubbly baked pasta shells and cauliflower florets smothered in a rich, creamy three cheese sauce of white cheddar, Swiss and parmesan.

Have you seen those special, vibrant orange heads of cauliflower beaming like sun rays in the market? Their unavoidable. I’m drawn to them like a magnet. The sunshine colored florets cry out for me to tuck them into my cart and give them a home. So I do what any sucker dedicated food blogger would do and let them have their way.

By doing this I have to entice my family into helping me eat all the cauliflower that somehow winds up in my cart being they don’t have the same deep, abiding love for vegetables that I do.

One of the best ways to pawn some of the vegetables off is by hiding it in something I know they can’t resist. Mixed with pasta and smothered in a three cheese sauce?

Totally works.

Even though they know my tricks by now. I’m notorious for hiding veggies in decadent dishes like this to help balance things out.

The thing is they expect it now and even funnier is they don’t seem to mind.

I can take the most despised vegetable and make it taste so good you won’t even remember why you hated it in the first place.

One of my many hidden talents.

Homestyle Mac and Cheese with Cauliflower

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: serves 8 as a side dish

Homestyle Mac and Cheese with Cauliflower

Pasta shells and cauliflower florets are smothered in a rich, creamy three cheese sauce of white cheddar, Swiss and parmesan.


8 ounces medium-sized pasta shells
5 cups cauliflower florets
5 tablespoons butter, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream (light is ok)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 + 1/4 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
1 + 1/4 cups sharp white cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon seasoned bread crumbs


  1. Cook the pasta to al dente in plenty of salted water according to package directions. Steam the cauliflower just until tender.
  2. Meanwhile butter a 9 x 13 casserole pan. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Saute garlic until fragrant. Whisk in flour and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Slowly whisk in milk, heavy cream, mustard, paprika and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Turn heat down to low, add the 3 cheeses and stir until smooth and melted. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley.
  5. Mix the drained pasta and cauliflower together; spread evenly out in prepared pan. Pour the cheese sauce evenly over top. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  6. Bake about 30-35 minutes until bubbly all over and golden on top. Allow to set 5-10 minutes before serving.

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  1. says

    I am always up for cauliflower! And mac and cheese. 😛 I’ve seen those orange heads and they are brilliantly gorgeous! You’ve done good by them. Very good.

  2. says

    Sounds delicious! I feel the same way when I see vegetables like that and was compelled to buy a large head of purple cauliflower last weekend at the farmers’ market. Love it!

  3. says

    I know the magnetic power of the cauliflower, I’m also subject to it :) Your pasta is absolutely amazing dear, I’m mouthwatering! Bye, have a great day

  4. says

    Oh yum! I love cauliflower too so am sure this would be a hit in our house!

    Moon, hope you’re having a good evening! We’d love to see you again! We miss your handsome face! :)

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