SERVES 6 - 8
What’s better than hatch green chiles and cheese? Nothing! Spicy, crunchy and cheesy, this comfort casserole will make you forget you’re being a little bit healthy. With a cheese sauce reminiscent of queso, this noodle-less (but far from life-less) “mac” and cheese will make your vegetarian friends swoon and might even turn your kids into cauliflower lovers, but be forewarned: they may never want cauliflower prepared any other way. We’re fully aware that getting some kids (or spouses) to eat vegetables can be like a hostage negotiation, so allow us to spice up your veggie game. You are welcome.
2 pounds cauliflower florets
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
¼ cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
6 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 Tablespoons chopped hatch green chiles
Pinch of cayenne
½ cup breadcrumbs + 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter.
Cook the cauliflower florets in the boiling water until crisp-tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain well through a colander and then spread the florets on a paper towel-lined sheet tray and pat dry with paper towels.
In the meantime, heat the milk in a small saucepan or in microwave, but do not allow it to boil. Melt 4 Tablespoons butter in a large pot and add the flour. Cook over medium heat, whisking, until nutty and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the warm milk and cook for 2 more minutes, until thick and smooth. Turn heat down to low and whisk in the cheese, pepper, nutmeg, salt and hatch chiles. Stir until cheese has fully melted. Taste and season with salt and more pepper if needed. Fold in the cooked cauliflower with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon and pour into prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of cauliflower and then bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are browned.