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.
Curried Cauliflower & Greens Mac and Cheese
- 5 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp curry powder (divided)
- 3/8 tsp kosher salt (divided)
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup uncooked penne pasta
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter (divided)
- 3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 1 Fresno red chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 2/3 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
- 1/4 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.
Looking for more Mac and Cheese cousins? Go check out some below links to get your creative juices flowing, and then stop by our Food Network Pinterest Board.
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!