Here it is! The second installment of i hate leftover hummus but also don't eat it that much. It's a great series.
This is the end of it, I promise.
This mac is inspired by this cauliflower that I adore, macked (heh) up to the fullest. The hummus makes the base of the mac and cheese, but then we add extra tahini and garlic for flavor, cheese after cheese after cheese, and a great crust on top of everything. If you've never had zaatar, it's a Mediterranean spice blend that has sumac, coriander, sesame, and lots of other yummy flavors. I get mine at the middle eastern grocery store here, but I've seen it in regular stores too! It's great for topping stuff, dipping bread into with olive oil....pretty much all the good stuff you can think of.
So for this mac, you need some kind of pasta. Cook it to BEFORE al dente. Then when it bakes it'll finish cooking in the hummus sauce! This is the same for any kind of baked pasta dish. Then you'll need butter, garlic, leftover hummus, tahini, cauliflower, half and half, cheese, and panko bread crumbs. For the cheese I used a combination of Fontina and Gruyere, but you can use anything you'd like.
Then zaatar! Spice blend. Mine looks like this. Buy some and keep it around, it's a really fun product to work with.
So the components are this: Roasted cauliflower, mac and cheese with hummus sauce, spiced panko on top. Bake, eat. It's seriously a complete meal with the veg + protein + carbs! I've also served it with a side salad and a piece of grilled salmon, and THAT was quite a dinner. Anyway. First! Preheat the oven to 450F and get the cauliflower in a single layer on a big baking sheet. I used bagged cauli because it was on sale, but this is about the same amount as a whole medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces. Drizzle olive oil over the cauliflower and sprinkle it with zaatar. Mine has salt in it, but if yours doesn't sprinkle some salt over the cauliflower too.
Then, roast the cauliflower. 15 minutes or so, until it's soft and darkened at the edges. Take it out to rest when it's done and reduce the heat on the oven to 375F.
While the cauliflower is working, I like to cook the pasta. While that's all happening, make the topping! 1 tablespoon softened butter, 1 tablespoon zaatar, ¼ cup panko bread crumbs.
Mix with a fork. Taste. Swoon! Set aside.
Now, at this point vaguely you should have topping prepped, cauliflower roasted, and pasta boiled, drained, and hanging out for it's turn.
Mince the garlic and grate the cheese.
Then, in the pot that you used to cook the pasta, add another pat of butter, the pasta, garlic, hummus, half and half, and tahini.
The tahini is so creamy and wonderful and gives the BEST taste to this, I promise.
Stir everything up, then add in the cheese! Stir THAT in; I don't like it to melt too much at this point, that way when you bake the mac you end up with a nice stringy cheesy end result.
Taste the pasta and add salt and pepper if you'd like. When the pasta tastes great, pour it into a baking dish. It should be saucy - splash in some more half and half if it seems dry.
Top the pasta with the roasted cauliflower, and top THAT with the panko mixture you have standing by.
Bake the mac and cheese for 20 minutes or so until it's hot and bubbly. I threw some fresh mint on top because it's one of my favorite herbs, but you can serve this as-is. You can also make this way in advance and just bake it for a little bit longer right at the end until it's hot and bubbly and the topping is slightly brown.
Meyer lemon slices never hurt anything either, I'll tell you that right now.
This, my friends, is excellent. It is nutty and rich from the tahini and cheese, but the cauliflower lightens it and the zaatar has a great tang from the sumac - I can't describe it.
As a meal or as a side dish, THIS is your new fav leftover hummus dish. Unless you like the pasta salad more. In which case I get it.
Hummus Mac and Cheese with Zaatar Cauliflower Crust
- 18 ounces short cut pasta cooked to package directions and drained
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons zaatar spice blend divided
- 2 tablespoons butter divided
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup prepared hummus
- ¼ cup tahini sauce
- 2 cups half and half
- 4 ounces fontina cheese grated
- 4 ounces gruyere cheese grated
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- fresh mint optional, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 450F. Arrange the cauliflower on a baking sheet in one layer. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the zaatar and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast the cauliflower for 15 minutes until tender and browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- In the same pot you used to boil the pasta, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the minced garlic over medium-high heat. Let the butter melt and the garlic soften for 2 minutes, then add the hummus, tahini, half and half, and cheeses. Stir to melt and combine and taste; add salt and pepper to your preference. Toss the pasta with the sauce and taste again. Add more half and half if needed for the mixture to be slightly soupy.
- In a small dish, combine the last tablespoon of butter and zaatar with the panko. Use a fork to make a crumbly mixture.
- Pour the pasta mixture into a large baking dish. Top with all the cauliflower and the panko mixture. Bake the mac at 375F until hot and bubbly (20 minutes or so, longer if you made this in advance and are heating it up from the fridge) and browned on top. Serve hot, and enjoy!
- Note: My zaatar has salt in it. If yours doesn't, add salt to the cauliflower before roasting.