Baked Macaroni with Caramelized Cauliflower and Two Cheeses (yum!)

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Okay. So this is really delicious. How delicious is it, you may ask? Well if you notice in the servings I wrote that it makes either four small or two large portions. When I first put it in the oven I looked at it and thought it would easily serve four, but when it came out it was so delicious I ate half of it.

Anyhow, as usual this is just a guide…use different ingredients or interchange them. I just happened to have some cauliflower in my cooler I needed to use up. You can also multiply this recipe, or make extra because leftovers are equally good.

Baked Macaroni with Caramelized Cauliflower and Two Cheeses

Make four small or two large servings

1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni

4 tablespoons olive oil

½ head cauliflower, sliced

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1 tomato sauce

2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

2 ounces grated Parmesan

Preheat an oven to 400F. Boil the macaroni al dente, drain it, and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet, then add the cauliflower and onion. Cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and hot pepper; cook a couple minutes longer. Stir in the tomato sauce, bring it to a boil and simmer it for a minute or so, then remove the pan from the heat. Carefully fold in the macaroni and most of the cheese. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese across the top of the macaroni, then bake it for about 15 or 20 minutes, or until the macaroni is thoroughly heated and the top is brown and crispy.

Spicy, Baked, and Cheesy (Yum!)

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So here is another recipe that is super easy to make but bursting with flavor. It’s really just a sort of Mediterranean-style macaroni-and-cheese. The key flavor techniques are browning the vegetables (making a sort of sofrito), reducing the chicken broth for concentrated flavor, and allowing the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce so it absorbs flavor as well. If you want to make this vegetarian you can replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. This makes a great main course or side dish. Anyhow, here’s the recipe in words and pictures.

Spicy Baked Whole-Wheat Macaroni with Caramelized Vegetables, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Two Cheeses

Makes two large portions or four side dishes.

1 cup whole-wheat macaroni (about 4 ounces)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 small carrot, diced

½ green bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper

8 sun dried tomatoes, diced (about ½ cup)

1½ cups chicken broth

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup shredded white cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)

Preheat an oven to 425F.

Cook the pasta al dente in a pot of salted water, then drain it and set it aside.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion, carrot, and bell pepper. Cook the vegetables, while stirring or tossing, for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to brown.

Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the hot pepper and sun dried tomatoes; cook for another minuter or two.

Stir in the chicken broth and salt, bring it to a boil, then lower it to a simmer.

Cook the sauce for about 5 minutes, or until it has reduced by about half.

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and cook it in the sauce for a couple minutes while gently folding it with a spoon to allow flavors to absorb. Fold half of the cheddar and Parmesan into the pasta and sprinkle the remainder over the top. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the top is crispy and lightly browned.

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