Last updated on April 8th, 2019
This creamy cheesy cauliflower and kale baked rigatoni is like grown up mac and cheese that even the kids will like. A brown butter roux with minced shallots and two cheeses gets tossed with caramelized cauliflower, kale, and sage. The whole thing gets baked with more cheese for a crispy topping then served with a sprinkling sage breadcrumbs.
Dinners have been sore spot for us lately. Between an increasingly picky toddler and my own pregnancy aversions, nausea, and exhaustion, it’s been a struggle to cook balanced meals that are filling and still nutritious. Coming up with main course dishes we all like, that incorporate vegetables and make killer leftovers is a lifesaver right now. I’ll be honest, making meals with leftovers is not one of my strengths. So, today I’m partnering with Roth Cheese to challenge myself to share a dish that is just that: cheesy cauliflower and kale baked rigatoni.
When I was pregnant with Zoella, Lucas fended for himself whenever I wanted to eat crackers, cheese, and apples for dinner (pregnancy gives me a toddler-style appetite) . This time around, we aim to have a family dinner on the table together every night within 15 minutes of Lucas getting home from work. This puts me in charge and, with very little energy, I’m stoked when a dish can feed us 2-3 nights in a row. If leftovers aren’t your thing (I hear you), this dish also makes a great crowd pleaser if you’re entertaining guests.
This creamy baked rigatoni is basically a grown up mac and cheese that’ll please adults and kids alike. The base is a brown butter roux with minced shallots and Roth’s organic sharp white cheddar and organic grand cru melted in. Last night, Lucas and I polished off a half a block of grand cru after dinner and agreed it’s our favorite snacking everyday cheese – it’s nutty and sweet with a robust flavor that’s not too strong that you ever tire of it. Paired with a creamy and tangy white cheddar, the combination is magic cheese sauce.
In the next pan over, cauliflower caramelizes while kale wilts in a bit more butter with sage. Then it all gets tossed together – veggies, magic cheese sauce, and rigatoni – and baked with another sprinkling of grand cru for that classic crispy top (the best part!).
We don’t stop there though. Oh no – we’re going take it up a notch. Fresh crispy breadcrumbs and sage get a toasty on the stove in a little butter to pass at the table while serving. In sum: I put all my favorite elements into this one baked pasta dish.
My namesake has a pasta dish she makes that she named after her daughter – Sofia’s pasta – because it’s her favorite. For now, we’ll just call this one Sarah’s pasta. Though, Zoella and I might end up fighting over that moniker. The first night we ate this, she picked out and ate only the cauliflower before looking up from her plate and saying, “I want more cauliflower, please.”
This is the same two year old whose only approved vegetable is still-frozen peas. She ate cauliflower like it was candy and then the next night slurped up the cheesy kale like it was noodles.
This baked rigatoni may be grown up mac and cheese, but it’s a toddler miracle pasta too. And a pregnant mama lifesaver.
I wrote this recipe in a way to help you use as few bowls and pots as possible. Here’s my pro mom-tip about making this dish as a weeknight dinner in one hour. To maximize the efficiency, I recommend first getting the bread for breadcrumbs toasting while preparing all your veggies and measuring the rest of your ingredients before you start cooking. Then, while things are cooking, wash as many dishes as you can in between stirs. While the pasta bakes, finish the dishes and when dinner is over, the kitchen is almost already clean! (Husband, are you listening to this multitasking tip?)
Disclosure: Special thanks to Roth Cheese for sponsoring this post! And thanks to you for supporting the companies that keep Snixy Kitchen cooking!
Cheesy Cauliflower & Kale Baked Rigatoni
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