Cauliflower Mac & Cheese with Poblano and Corn

This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Poblano and Corn recipe is a delicious and filling vegetarian main dish perfect for when you are craving something hearty. The cauliflower gets blended into the sauce to create an extra creamy base without having to use too much milk or cheddar cheese.

overhead of Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Poblano and Corn on table

I know we are all obsessed with tomatoes and peaches and cherries and corn right now but can we talk about another delicious vegetable that is bursting at the farmer’s market…the poblano! Maybe it’s because I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy food but I seriously think poblanos are such an underrated pepper. I had the pleasure of snagging a big bag of them from the market the other weekend (for so cheap!) and have been adding them to anything I would have used a jalapeño or even bell pepper in – including this Mac and cheese!

The poblano and corn in this Mac and cheese gives it a bit of a southwest smoky flare while still being super cheesy from the cheddar. Another little surprise to this recipe is that there is blended cauliflower in the sauce which helps to yield a creamy end result without having to use as much milk or cheese as you would usually use with a traditional baked Mac and cheese recipe.

sauce and pasta in big pan

I used a ziti pasta shape because it’s what I had on hand but obviously a traditional macaroni noodle would work here as well. Although you could stop after folding the sauce into the pasta and it would be delicious, I highly recommend taking the time to also had some buttered breadcrumbs and broiling it in the oven for a few minutes to create a crusty top that is the perfect constrast to the gooey cheesy filling. This Mac and cheese is hearty enough to serve on it’s own but would also be great with a simple side salad.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Poblano and Corn

4 from 4 votes
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Poblano and Corn

This Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Poblano and Corn recipe is a delicious and filling vegetarian main dish perfect for when you are craving something hearty. The cauliflower gets blended into the sauce to create an extra creamy base without having to use too much milk or cheddar cheese.

Ingredients
  • 1 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 pound dried pasta (such as ziti or elbow)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium poblano peppers
  • 1 small red onion peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 5 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh from the cob or frozen will work here)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower and boil for 5 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the dried pasta to the same boiling salted water and boil according to the package direction (should be around 10ish minutes). Drain and transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl.

  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add roughly chopped poblano peppers, onions, and garlic and saute for 5 minutes or until starting to soften. Add a dash of salt, smoked paprika, and cumin and saute for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and transfer to a high speed blender. Set aside and let cool for at least 10 minutes.

  3. Once cooled, add the boiled cauliflower, cilantro and 1 cup of milk and blend on high speed until smooth.

  4. Wipe clean the large skillet used for the poblano mixture and melt 2 Tbsp butter in it over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until a thick paste has formed. Slowly pour 1/4 cup milk into the skillet to create a thick sauce. Slowly pour the poblano blender mixture and remaining 1/4 cup milk into the sauce. Turn the heat up to medium-high and, stirring contantly, mix until bubbles start to form. Pour in the cheddar cheese and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

  5. Pour sauce over the pasta and mix to combine.

  6. Wipe the large skillet clean and melt 1 Tbsp butter in the pan over medium heat. Add corn and saute for 3 minutes or until starting to brown. Transfer to pasta and mix to combine. Transfer to a oven safe pan (such as a dutch oven).

  7. Add remianing 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat (no need to wipe the pan this time) and add breadcrumbs. Toss until the breadcrumbs are completely coated with the butter and remove from heat. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta.

  8. Heat broiler on high and transfer pasta to the top rack of oven. Let broil for 30 seconds (check often!) or until the breadcrumbs have browned. Remove from oven and serve warm.

overhead Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Poblano and Corn

Make sure to tag Vegetarian ‘Ventures on Instagram and use #vegetarianventures when trying this dish out!

Comment

6 Comments

  • Jeffiekins
    August 20, 2020

    Reading the description, I was curious how the cauliflower was incorporated into the cheese sauce. I still am. Near the beginning of the recipe, cauliflower is transferred to a medium bowl, and neither the vegetable nor bowl is ever mentioned again. You should not post a recipe that you have never had anyone try to follow. It’s disrespectful to your readers.

    • Shellywest
      Jeffiekins
      August 21, 2020

      Hey Jeffiekins – I have updated the recipe in hopes it makes it more clear how the cauliflower should be blended with the poblanos and milk in the blender. I’m so sorry to offend you – I am only one person running this blog and do make mistakes now and again so I always appreciate when someone mentions so I can address. I hope the clarity in the recipe helps and that you try the recipe!

  • Bozu
    August 21, 2020

    Hum this dish is very tasty, and I will quickly realize it when it is less hot !!! In France, we often have a nice late season, so I keep this recipe for later or for a cool day.
    I really like your recipes, they are original and always tasty. Thank you

  • Bea Farlane
    August 22, 2020

    As with a lot of fantastic looking recipes, I was a little scared how hard and time consuming it would be to prepare – It’s not! Your recipe was very easy to follow and it didn’t take long to prepare at all. It turned out wonderful and it’s an interesting take on this classic meal.

    • Shellywest
      Bea Farlane
      September 1, 2020

      So glad you made and enjoyed this recipe, Bea! Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

  • Bea Farlane
    August 22, 2020

    As with a lot of fantastic looking recipes, I was a little scared how hard and time consuming it would be to prepare – It’s not! Your recipe was very easy to follow and it didn’t take long to prepare at all. It turned out wonderful and it’s an interesting take on this classic meal. I loved it!

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