Cozy weather is upon us and it’s time for warm, comforting meals. This hearty, veggie-packed mac and cheese hits the spot for a weeknight dinner or a party. We like to use cauliflower and kale, but use whatever vegetables you like! Adding roasted butternut squash would make this the perfect Thanksgiving side dish.
The key to this simple mac and cheese is mastering the roux. A good roux gives the dish a decadent mouthfeel that’ll keep you going back for more. Use equal parts flour and fat (in this case, butter). Browning the butter before making your roux will add maximum flavor to the final product.
Prep Time: 1 hour | Serves 8
1 lb dried pasta shapes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 lb cauliflower florets, finely chopped
1 bunch kale, leaves only, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes, to taste
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups milk
¾ cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup grated cheddar
3 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a pinch of salt, then add the pasta. Cook until al dente, about 1-2 minutes before fully cooked. Drain and set aside. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Heat a large skillet to a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and rest of the vegetables, and stir well. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and sauté until the vegetables are tender. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- To make the cheese sauce, heat a medium-large pot over a medium heat. Add the butter. Once completely melted, add the flour and whisk well until the mixture is shiny and resembles a loose paste. Add the milk, a small splash at a time, whisking constantly. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cheese in handfuls, mixing each well before adding the next. Remove from the heat and stir in the herbs. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Off the heat, add the drained pasta and vegetable mixture, stirring well to combine. Pour into a 9×13-inch casserole dish.
- To make the topping, heat a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the butter and heat until melted. Add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden grown. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the mac and cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.