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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.


  • 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


  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.