Skip to main content

Brown Macaroni with Four Cheeses and Romanesco or Cauliflower

Serves 6

This mac and cheese is rich, but it’s also rich in nutrition. It works as a make-ahead meal for a quick weeknight dinner, or bring to your next potluck for a real crowdpleaser!


  • 1 pound farro or whole grain penne
  • Salt
  • 1 head Romanesco (Roman broccoli) or cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 10 large shallots, thinly sliced with a mandolin, the wide side of a box grater or a food processor
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, minced
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • A few grates of fresh nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard or 1/2 teaspoon ground red chili pepper or cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 cups grated cheese, a mix of sharp white cheddar, Fontina Val D’Aosta or Gruyère and Asiago
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente, about 8 minutes, adding the Romanesco or cauliflower the last 4 minutes of cooking time.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium size skillet, heat the olive oil, two turns of the pan. Melt in 1 tablespoon butter and when it foams, add the shallots and garlic. Season with thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden, about 20 minutes. Add the stock and stir.
  3. In a medium size saucepot, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, dry mustard or ground red pepper, and stir. Whisk in the flour, cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk. Thicken to coat spoon over medium-high heat, 2-3 minutes. Stir in cheese in figure-8 motion and remove from the heat.
  4. Combine the pasta and Romanesco or cauliflower with the sauce and shallots; dish into a casserole. Top with the Parm.
  5. Bake until bubbly and brown, 35-45 minutes.