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Mac and Cheese with Fresh Peas, Cauliflower and Toasted Garlic Breadcrumbs

This is creamy comfort food with a few surprising additions—and a crispy garlicky topping. Pair with California Chardonnay or Merlot.


2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons (30ml) all purpose flour

1 cup (240ml) whole milk

1 cup (240ml) half-and-half

1¼ cup (143g) grated sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup (56g) grated Gruyere cheese

6 cups cooked macaroni (made from 10 ounces/284g dry macaroni)

½ teaspoon (2.5ml) sea salt

2 tablespoons (30ml) extra virgin olive oil

2 cups (200g) cauliflower florets, cut into small pieces

½ cup (80g) fresh or frozen peas

For the topping:

2 cups (128g) fine dry breadcrumbs (preferably Panko)

½ cup (56g) grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons (30ml) extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons (10ml) minced garlic

½ teaspoon (2.5ml) sea salt

1 teaspoon (2.5ml) freshly ground black pepper

Serves 6


Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C)

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed, saucepan over medium heat, until sizzling. Add the flour and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Gradually stir in the milk and half-and-half, and continue to stir until the sauce thickens and begins to simmer.

Turn off heat, stir in the grated cheddar and the Gruyere until smooth. Fold in the macaroni and ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the cauliflower and cook and stir until lightly browned. Stir in the peas and cook for 2 more minutes.

Mix the cauliflower and peas with the macaroni and spread in a buttered 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish.

To make the topping, mix the breadcrumbs, cheddar cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the macaroni.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

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