Curried cauliflower folded into a mac and cheese casserole along with a handful of kale.
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, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 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 1/2 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, 1/4 cup at a time. Return the skillet to the heat and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
- Stir 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.