This Kale Cauliflower Baked Mac and Cheese is a cheesy concoction that’s simple to make and a super way to get your kids to eat their vegetables!
My son, Max, just turned one on May 10. This is my first child, but I would assume all mothers feel this way with every child: where did the time go? How do I have a toddler? What has happened in the past 365 days and did I fall into some black hole, because I only remember about 179 of those days?
Luckily for me, Max eats like a grown man, but I know a lot of children are picky and it’s almost impossible to get them to eat their vegetables, which brings us to my recipe for Roasted Kale Cauliflower Baked Mac and Cheese. This recipe is great for disguising those vegetables by adding them into every kid’s favorite, macaroni and cheese!
I can definitely see myself making dishes like this with my boy. It’s a cheesy and carb-y concoction that children appreciate, but then, I have these lovely things called vegetables and greens in it because kids don’t always want to eat what’s good for them (or so I’ve been told). One thing we really want to try with Max is to have him be really involved in the kitchen. Already he likes to be held, or to sit (safely!) on the counter while we cook, peering into the stand mixer as it goes, looking into the light-filled oven, selecting ingredients off the pantry and fridge shelves.
On his list of enemy kitchen gadgets: spice grinder and blender. You can’t win at everything, apparently.
At Max’s one-year checkup, our doctor asked us what foods Max was averse to. It was said in a way as to suggest that surely, surely he doesn’t like the texture of something. We reported back that he eats it all. All flavors, all textures. He’s better than either of his parents, I admit. The doctor then listed some food he would expect a child may not like at his age: eggs, cottage cheese, meat, bitter kale, and brussels sprouts. Nope, doc, he’s good with all of those. In fact, those very foods are some of his favorites.
I realize that we may be just very fortunate in this regard. I realize that Max’s tastes and preferences may change. Right now, though, we are singing the praises of his happy palate and crossing our fingers that it continues.
Roasted Kale Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Recipe
Maybe it’s a little bit about our preparation of things like greens and vegetables that makes them acceptable to this little guy of ours. They are flavorful, but not overpowering. They are subtle, but present enough. Although they are still healthier, they are mixed with something that I think people are programmed to love like macaroni and cheese. This particular macaroni and cheese with a béchamel-based cheese sauce comes together in no time flat.
PS: The roasted cauliflower’s color is similar enough to the cheese and noodles that it’s basically camouflaged.
If your little one likes getting involved in the kitchen, watch out for hot pots, but with some guidance, the whisking of the cheese sauce is easy! Easy enough for little hands to handle. Simple enough to monitor. You can have them break apart the cauliflower florets to prepare for baking or have them massage the kale.
There aren’t too many elements to this dish, but most every one can involve the kids, and isn’t that the best part of a lovely summer break? I think so.
- 1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
- 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon herbes de provence
- 3 cups kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
- Pinch each of salt and pepper
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
- 1/8 cup breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and toss together florets, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cumin, herbs de provence, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Arrange on baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer florets to a plate.
- While the cauliflower cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook macaroni according to package directions, but undercook the pasta a little. Once done, drain the pasta.
- Lower oven temperate to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine kale, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper, and massage the olive oil into the kale pieces. Spread on baking sheet in a single layer and cook for five minutes. Pull from oven and set aside.
- In the same pot used to cook the macaroni, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking for about 5 minutes, or until the butter and flour are combined and the raw flour taste is cooked out. Slowly whisk in the milk.
- Once everything is combined and thickened, stir in the cheese, one cup at a time. When all the cheese is melted, add the macaroni noodles, kale, and cauliflower to the cheese sauce. Stir to combine and so the vegetables are evenly distributed.
- Transfer macaroni mixture to a baking dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
Home Chef Tip: For added crispiness, drizzle olive oil on top of the breadcrumbs before baking.
We hope you love this Roasted Kale Cauliflower Mac and Cheese recipe from SoFabFood Contributor, Jennifer from The Foodie Patootie, as much as we do. If you enjoyed this delicious recipe, be sure to check out our other side dish recipes for more like it. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter so that you never miss a single recipe, and for daily recipe inspiration, like us on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest. Enjoy!