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Sshhh… don’t tell Jamie Oliver… but we like this version of Cauliflower Mac N Cheese better than his. Full points for style, attitude, and flair, but that one gets the thumbs down – we found it too rich. Which is why I am cooking another version of the same, but with more veg. Lighter and better for you, this is Jamie’s with added vegetables. Added vegetables and ham.

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Not only is it healthy, it’s fast. This one-pot dinner comes together in a flash. Even with a cranky toddler demanding my attention, this cauliflower mac ‘n’ cheese was ready in a jiffy, in the blink of an eye… if you are short on time, this meal’s the one for you. The directions say to grill before serving, but seriously, it can be served straight from the pot. Salad is optional.

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Unlike most of my recipes these days, this one came not from the internet, but from a magazine; a free magazine, at that. I picked it up when passing through the supermarket checkout and immediately found three recipes I wanted to try. This one was first cab off the rank, and the vote is in: an easy, tasty mid-week meal that will be going on high rotation.

We were impressed. And the toddler eats each fistful with a “nomnomnom”, so we figure he approves as well.

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Cauliflower and Ham Macaroni Cheese {toddler approved}
With a hat tip to Jamie, I have added a little parmesan cheese to boost the flavour. And with the presence of pasta, cheese and white sauce, I couldn’t help thinking this would be just as nice with tuna instead of ham.

Makes enough to feed a small army
Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins

Ingredients
400g macaroni
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
200g shaved leg ham, roughly chopped
1 ½ cups frozen peas
1 ½ cups grated tasty cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
250g light sour cream
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste

Method
Grate the cheeses and combine in a medium bowl. Chop the ham, and measure out the peas.

Cook macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water, according to packet directions, adding cauliflower for the final 5 minutes of cooking time. Drain over a large bowl, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.

Return macaroni and cauliflower to pan. Add ham, peas, half the cheese, sour cream and reserved cooking liquid. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon mixture into a large ovenproof baking dish. Combine breadcrumbs and remaining cheese. Scatter over macaroni mixture. Drizzle with olive oil.

Cook under a pre-heated grill for 5 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Serve with salad.

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Adapted from Coles.com.au

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