Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes | eat. live. travel. write.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes in a baking dish with a spoonToday I’m sharing a recipe that was born of the bits and pieces in my fridge and pantry – sad veggies on their last legs, a handful of dry pasta and a nub of cheese that had me scratching my head about what to make for dinner. Those bits and pieces could easily have ended up in the green bin as so much food, unfortunately does. Did you know, that even though there’s enough food in the world to feed every man, woman and child on the planet, 1 in 9 people still go to bed hungry every night. At the same time, nearly 1/3 of the food that’s produced each year is squandered or spoiled – enough to feed 2 billion people!

So, how do we end hunger? On a large scale, The United Nations World Food Programme is the largest humanitarian organisation fighting hunger, working on the ground and delivering life-saving food assistance to millions of vulnerable families. But what about us? How can we help end hunger? A great place to start for everyone is to stop wasting food. Did you know that today, September 29th is International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste. It’s a great day to shop your pantry and fridge for dinner tonight!

Stop the Waste from World Food Programme helps fight world hungerHow many times have you been on your way home from work, planned dinner in your head, popped in the supermarket on the way home to purchase ingredients and arrive home ready to cook dinner only to find you had half of them at home already? I confess to being guilty of that but over the past few months as I’ve been home more, I implemented a few actions that have helped me waste less food. It’s not going to end world hunger overnight but if everyone did their part, it would make a significant difference.

Today, I’m joining World Food Programme to #StopTheWaste to highlight the reality of all the food being lost or thrown away while others are going to bed hungry. As well as encouraging you to join me and become part of the change at wfp.org/foodwaste, I’m also sharing some easy ways you can waste less food at home.

Simple ways to waste less food.

  1. Do a pantry inventory. There’s no better way to meal plan that to know what you have on hand. Don’t end up with 10 packages of pasta that you can’t use because you keep buying more when there is already tons of pasta in the back of the pantry. Check use-by dates and move “to use” items to the front of you pantry.
  2. Meal plan (based on what you have on hand). Once you’ve taken stock of what you have to use, it’s easier to plan meals which ensure you won’t end up tossing food that’s gone bad or is beyond it’s best-before date.
  3. Buy what you need each week. I know right now shopping can be a bit of a challenge but for the most part, I’m still shopping small, more often, especially for produce and meat. By only keeping small amounts of both on hand, it pushes me to think ahead to plan meals and then only buy what I need.
  4. Do a fridge cleanout at least once a week. Back when Covid hit, I did a huge fridge cleanout and found all sorts of things lurking in the back (condiments and sauces and such) that I couldn’t remember how long they had been there. That’s not a good thing. Starting with a freshly “swept” fridge is a great way to reduce food waste because apart from anything else, you are able to see more of what you have on hand and keep it at the top of your mind when you are meal planning.
  5. Batch cooking and freezing are your friends! Taking some time to cook up a big batch of a chili or a soup on the weekends means you’re setting future you up for some tasty meals with no prep later that week. Future self will thank you!

Ok, so these are not huge steps and look simple but you do need to get yourself into the habit of, well, making those steps habits each week. And even if you’re making a big effort, you’ll still sometimes end up with a lone baby cauliflower and a handful of cherry tomatoes that need using up. Like me this past weekend.

Those sad veggies? They ended up in a simple, but flavourful macaroni and cheese…

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes in a baking dishWhat you can’t see is a small head of cauliflower in there (and I know from experience that kids can’t tell that it’s there either so if you’re trying to get more veggies in your family’s diet, this is a great place to start!).

This is a baked macaroni and cheese, meaning it’s not as loose as a traditional version. I love it because it feels substantial, reheats beautifully and actually tastes better the next day! The Panko breadcrumbs (also from a package lurking in the back of my pantry) give it some nice crunch, and the cauliflower pieces add some texture too. It’s a tasty, colourful dish that doesn’t taste like sad veggies needing to be used up at all!

Plus, if you wanted (and if you had some), this is a great place to use up those few rashers of bacon you didn’t quite get to using at Sunday morning breakfast…

Yield: 6

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

Bowl of Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

Easy homemade mac and cheese with some bonus veggies!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 37 minutes


For the tomatoes

  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (approx. 250g)
  • Olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta

  • 4 cups (300 g) dry penne (or other small) pasta
  • 454g (1!L) cauliflower (weighed before trimming), trimmed and roughly chopped into small (pasta-sized) pieces

For the béchamel

  • 1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons (57 g) all- purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) milk
  • 2 cups (120 g) grated Emmenthal or Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For assembling

  • 1/2 cup (45 g) Panko breadcrumbs

To serve

  • Fresh parsley


Prepare the tomatoes

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425˚F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Scatter the cherry tomatoes evenly across the baking tray, cut side up.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil over the tomatoes and season with the salt and pepper.
  4. Roast for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Set aside to cool slightly.

Cook the pasta and cauliflower

  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
  2. When you have about 6 minutes left, add the cauliflower.
  3. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

Make the béchamel

  1. In a small pot over medium-low heat, bring the milk to a simmer, without letting it boil. You can also do this in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl or jug in 30-second increments until it reaches temperature.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat, being careful not to let it burn.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium and add the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. It will be more like a paste than a sauce at this point.
  4. Gradually add the warm milk to the flour. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until the mixture thickens slightly, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat.

Assemble and bake

  1. Add the grated cheese and the salt and pepper to the béchamel sauce and mix everything well with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the béchamel sauce to the pasta and stir well to combine the sauce into the pasta.
  3. Gently stir in the roasted tomatoes. At this point, taste the pasta and adjust the seasoning to your liking with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the pasta to a (approx) 20 x 30cm baking dish and sprinkle the Panko breadcrumbs evenly over the top.
  5. Set the broiler to high (400˚F/200˚C) and place an oven rack in the middle position.
  6. Broil for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley to serve.

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did you make this recipe?

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Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes in a bowl ready to eatFrom “what’s for dinner?” to “here’s dinner but also a few lunches/ dinners for the week ahead” this is a great place to start if you’re looking for ways to eat what you might have on hand. What about you? How will you shop your pantry and fridge today to avoid food waste?

Learn how you can help #stopthewaste and ensure people aren’t going to bed hungry: World Food Programme’s Stop the Waste

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One Response to Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

  1. Geoff September 29, 2020 at 21:12 #

    I could smell that dish from down under. Now I’m hungry.
    Nice post, Mardi … full of good sense

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