Cauliflower Baked Shells and Cheese

I’ve never met a mac and cheese I didn’t like. This version hast a few less carbs than most because you bulk it up with cauliflower. For a vegetarian version, leave out the ham. This recipe was adapted from Southern Living Magazine.

8 cups water
1 large head cauliflower broken into small florets (about 7 cups)
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
6 oz small seashell pasta
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
7 oz baked ham, in bite sized pieces
2 slices 100% whole-wheat bread
1 Tbsp butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
2. In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook 4 minutes or until tender. With a slotted spoon, remove the cauliflower to a large bowl, reserving the cooking liquid. Bring the cooking liquid back to a rolling boil. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions. Drain and add to the cauliflower.
3. In a medium saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk, stirring well. Stir in the garlic and cook over medium-high heat until thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cheeses, mustard, and pepper. Pour cheese sauce over the cauliflower mixture and add ham, stirring to coat. Spoon cauliflower mixture into the prepared baking dish.
4. Tear bread slices into rough pieces and place in a food processor. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. Combine breadcrumbs with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the cauliflower mixture. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Servings: 8

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