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Cauliflower and bacon mac and cheese

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Ingredients

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1 small cauliflower, broken into florets
200g dried macoroni
4 rashers smoked back bacon, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
3 spring onions, finely diced
1 tbsp plain flour
350ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tbsp fresh chives, plus extra for garnish
Pinch of nutmeg
100g cheddar cheese (30% reduced fat), grated, plus extra for sprinkling

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Cauliflower and bacon mac and cheese

Crispy bacon and creamy cauliflower take this macaroni and cheese to the next level. My recipe uses light cheddar cheese and olive oil instead of butter in the sauce for a healthier twist on this much-loved classic. Just omit the bacon to make it completely veggie.

Features:
    Cuisine:
    • 55 Mins
    • Serves 3
    • Medium

    Ingredients

    Directions

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    1. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add half the cauliflower florets and boil for 10-12 minutes or until very soft. Drain and place the cauliflower in a blender. Set aside.

    2. Fill the same pan with water and return to the boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to pack instructions, or until al dente. Add the remaining cauliflower florets for the final 3 minutes to soften slightly. Drain both, reserving a few ladlefuls of pasta water, and set aside.

    3. Lay the bacon out on a foil-lined baking tray and place under a hot grill for 4 minutes on each side or until just starting to crisp at the edges. Cut into chunks and set aside.

    4. Preheat the oven to 190C. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan and toss in the spring onions. Sauté gently for 2-3 minutes to soften, then whisk in the flour until a smooth paste forms. Continue cooking for 1 minute to remove the rawness of the flour, then gradually whisk in the milk a little at a time.

    5. Increase the heat slightly and keep stirring for about 5 minutes until all the milk has been incorporated and the sauce almost coats the back of the spoon.

    6. Pour the sauce into the blender with the blitzed cauliflower and pulse to a smooth consistency. Season well and pour back into the saucepan.

    7. Stir through the nutmeg, chives and cheddar cheese off the heat and keep stirring until the residual heat has melted all the cheese. The consistency should be like pouring custard but if it’s a little too thick, add a splash of the reserved pasta water to loosen.

    8. Fold the reserved macaroni, cauliflower florets and bacon through the sauce and transfer to a small roasting dish. Cover with a sprinkling of extra cheese and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top and the sauce is bubbling at the sides.

    9. Leave to cool for 2 minutes before serving alongside a side salad.

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