Curried cauliflower folded into a mac and cheese casserole along with a handful of kale.
This week’s theme for Food Network’s #ComfortFoodFest is Mac and Cheese.
I grew up on Stouffer’s Mac ‘n Cheese, and before that, Swanson’s TV dinners (yes, I know that probably slams me into a particular age bracket), but as an adult, I’ve learned that Mac and Cheese is actually a sprawling family of cousins. Some are super-rich creamy-cheesy, others are more about the pasta-featuring different shapes and sizes. Lots include veggies – what a great way to slip them into unsuspecting small diners – while some strike out a pescetarian path with crab, or go further afield and fold in shredded pork rib meat. The Mac and Cheese family welcomes all with a comforting, gooey embrace.
My version imagines a curried Indian Mac and Cheese with roasted cauliflower, red chile, shallots, kale, and diced tomato. But it’s super flexible: Tired of kale? Substitute mustard greens or fresh spinach greens. Want more of a kick (one Fresno pepper only adds a touch of heat), double up on the chile.
Simply serve with a big healthy salad dressed in a vinaigrette for a satisfying vegetarian dinner.
- 5½ cups cauliflower florets
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ tsp curry powder (divided)
- ⅜ tsp kosher salt (divided)
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup uncooked penne pasta
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter (divided)
- ¾ cup thinly sliced shallots
- 1 Fresno red chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1⅔ cup 2% milk
- 8 ounces melty cheese (I used 4 ounces cheddar + 4 ounces fontina)
- 1 cup baby kale
- 1 Roma (plum) tomato, finely diced
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the cauliflower with the oil, ½ teaspoon curry powder, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg, and spread on the baking sheet. Bake until softened and lightly crisped, about 25 minutes, depending on the size of the florets.
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to the package directions. Drain.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and chile, and sauté until softened and just beginning to brown. Sprinkle the flour, and remaining 1 teaspoon curry and ½ teaspoon salt over the vegetables and whisk to combine. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes to cook the flour.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and thoroughly whisk in the milk, ¼ cup at a time. Return the skillet to the heat and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
- Fold in the cheeses, kale, and tomato until the cheese melts. Fold in the cauliflower. Pour into an 8" X 8" casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes.
- Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small pan. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until lightly toasted. Spread on the casserole and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly.
Mac and Cheese Week
The Heritage Cook: Gluten-Free Cream Cheesy Risotto
The Mom 100: One Skillet Carroty Macaroni and Cheese
Daisy at Home: Squasheroni and Cheese
Creative Culinary: Smoked Gouda with Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
The Cultural Dish: New England (Lobster) Mac n’ Cheese
The Wimpy Vegetarian: Curried Cauliflower and Greens Mac ’n Cheese
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cauliflower and Veggie “Mac” & Cheese
Red or Green: Mac & Cheese with Ham and Jalapenos
Swing Eats: Super Creamy Crab Mac-N-Cheese with Scallions (gluten-free)
Taste with the Eyes: Korean “Mac and Cheese” with Beef, Kimchi, Cheddar
Weelicious: Rice Cooker Mac and Cheese
FN Dish: Food Network Chefs’ Takes on the Gooiest Mac and Cheese Ever
And here’s a link to my Pasta! Board on Pinterest for lots of pasta ideas I’ve curated from all over!