Hidden Cauliflower Mac ’n’ Cheese
I love to sneak vegetables into my favorite comfort foods, and this mac ’n’ cheese fits the bill. The cauliflower becomes so tender that it completely dissolves into the sauce when stirred—no additional equipment needed. I’ve seasoned this so you can use less cheese than traditional recipes, but be sure to use an extra-sharp Cheddar to maximize the cheesy flavor.
Prep: 7 minutes
Pressurize: 15 minutes
Cook: 3 minutes
Natural Release: 10 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
1 pound whole-wheat macaroni
4 cups water
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1 pound fresh or frozen cauliflower florets
4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, or other cheese of your choice, like Gruyère
1 Pour the pasta into the Instant Pot and add the water, soy sauce, mustard, and salt. Stir well to combine, then add the cauliflower on top without stirring, making sure that the cauliflower layer completely covers the pasta for even cooking. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing . Select Manual/Pressure Cook to cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. While the pot is coming to pressure, shred the Cheddar (you should have about 1 cup).
2 When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure.
3 When the floating valve drops, remove the lid and stir the pasta well, using a spatula to break up any pasta that has stuck together or stuck to the bottom of the pot. (A little sticking is to be expected, but it will loosen up when you stir.) Use the spatula to mash any intact cauliflower florets against the side of the pot to help them dissolve into the pasta sauce.
4 Add the Cheddar and Parmesan and stir well. Adjust the seasonings as needed and serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days.
MAKE IT VEGAN Use store-bought vegan cheese, or make a cashew “cheese” sauce. Soak 1 cup raw cashews for 1 hour, then drain and rinse. In a blender, combine 2 cups of the water with the cashews, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, and ¼ cup nutritional yeast. Blend on high speed until smooth. Add the blended mixture to the Instant Pot, along with the remaining 2 cups water and the rest of the ingredients. Cook as directed. Stir in an additional ½ cup water after cooking for a creamier sauce.
MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE Omit the macaroni and soy sauce, and use gluten-free pasta and tamari instead. Use only 3 cups water and cook on high pressure for 0 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 8 minutes, then continue as directed above.