Baked cauliflower mac and cheese

January is often synonymous with “detox,” launching a million juice cleanses and yoga passes. I prefer to start the new year indulging in the heartiest, most satisfying, lip-smacking comfort food — both to fill my steady hunger cravings and keep me sane during the long Canadian winter.

On a frigid day when my only agenda is to lounge at home in my sweats, mac and cheese always lifts my mood. I wrote a previous blog entry about veganizing the dish with a sauce made from cashews. Here, cauliflower also makes a great “cheese” sauce, baked with spinach and artichokes.

mac and cheese casserole

Baked mac and cheese with cauliflower sauce, spinach and artichokes

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 to 25 minutes
Total time: 35 to 40 minutes

Serves 4

  • 4 cups macaroni
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp turmeric
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 medium white onion
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup almond or cashew milk
  • 4 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 can marinated artichokes
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • herbs and chili flakes to taste
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • shredded vegan cheese, such as Daiya (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C)
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large pot, sauté the garlic and onion for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add water and bring to a boil. Add the chopped cauliflower and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until softened.
  5. Drain and add to a food processor or high-speed blender.
  6. Add in the oil, nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt and pepper. Process or blend until smooth. If the sauce is too thin, add milk as needed.
  7. In a casserole dish, pour in the drained pasta. Add the spinach leaves and artichokes.
  8. Pour the sauce on top of the pasta and mix well.
  9. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and rosemary, basil, thyme or chili flakes.
  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

*If you’re adding vegan cheese shreds, sprinkle it on the pasta after it’s been baking for 15 minutes and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes.

More “cheesy” ideas for comfort food

And check out this video for a cheesy spaghetti squash with broccoli and garlic:

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