Here's a recipe for nutritious Cauliflower Casserole that satisfies like mac and cheese. There's plenty of healthy kale and quinoa in the mix and just enough sharp cheddar cheese to give it rich flavor and irresistible melted cheesiness.
I'm a big fan of recipes that turn vegetables into crave-worthy comfort food.
True comfort is greatly enhanced when you know that the dish you are enjoying is also good for you.
I'm not averse to the occasional indulgence in all-out mac-and-cheese with noodles, creamy béchamel sauce and buttery breadcrumbs. It's one of my favorite splurges. But for the regular dinner rotation it's great to have a healthier recipe in the repertoire.
And honestly, this dish is so delicious, once you try it you may never go back to mac and cheese.
Cooked cauliflower is a great 'mac' substitute. It's so delicious in this casserole, you might need to remind yourself that you're eating vegetables. And there's no need for breadcrumbs here. The quinoa gets brown and crispy on top when baked.
There's plenty of ultra healthy kale in this cauliflower casserole, which also gets nice and crisp on top, and there's just enough sharp cheddar to achieve a wonderful melted, oozing, cheesy deliciousness.
How To Make This Cauliflower Casserole
- Start by boiling a cup of quinoa in a large pot with extra water because you'll be adding the cauliflower to the same pot.
- Cut a head of cauliflower into bite-sized florets.
- When the quinoa is half cooked, after about 7 minutes of simmering, add the cauliflower to the same pot. After another 7 minutes, drain the cauliflower and quinoa in a colander.
- Meanwhile, remove the stems from a bunch of kale. Toss the leaves with olive oil and roast them in the oven until they're soft and crisp on the edges.
- In a big bowl, toss the quinoa, cauliflower and kale with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, milk, mustard, salt and pepper.
- Pour the whole mixture into a casserole and bake for 30 minutes.
This Cauliflower Casserole comes together in about an hour, with only 20 minutes of hands-on time, a great dish for busy weeknights.
If you want to save even more time, you can do most of the prep a day ahead. Cook the cauliflower, kale and quinoa and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Just before baking, toss the quinoa and veggies with cheese, milk, mustard and spices.
Freezing and Reheating Instructions
I've cooked this cauliflower casserole many times while testing the recipe and ended up with more than we could eat. So I threw a batch in the freezer and was pleased to learn that this dish freezes and reheats beautifully.
- If you want to freeze this, transfer it to a freezer-friendly plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.
- To defrost, pop the cauliflower casserole out of the container and place it in a heavy casserole dish. Warm in a 350ºF oven for 30 minutes, or until it's heated through. Tent with foil if it starts to get too brown for your liking.
What to serve with cheesy cauliflower casserole
All you need is a side salad to round out the meal. Even though there's no pasta here, it feels like a pasta and salad supper. I like to serve this simple green salad on the side or this Italian tricolor salad.
Other Delicious Vegetarian Casserole Recipes on Panning The Globe:
• No Noodle Eggplant Lasagna
• No-Fry Eggplant Parmesan
• Spaetzle with Caramelized Onions, Wilted Greens and Gruyere
• Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
If you're looking for more casserole recipes, All Free Casserole Recipes is a great resource.
Here's the Cauliflower Casserole Recipe. If you try this recipe I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think!Print
Cauliflower Casserole with Quinoa Kale and Sharp Cheddar
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 mins
- Yield: 6-8 1x
A vegetarian cheesy cauliflower casserole with kale and quinoa. gluten-free.
- 1 large bunch of kale, either curly kale or dinosaur kale
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1 medium sized head of cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets
- 8 ounces shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard (such as Grey Poupon)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt plus more, to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more, to taste
- 1 teaspoon onion powder, optional
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Pull the kale leaves off the thick stems and tear them into bite sized pieces, rinse leaves, spin or pat dry (they don't have to be completely dry) and spread kale leaves out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over kale and use your hand to massage the oil into the leaves. Roast kale in the center of the oven for 15-20 minutes, tossing after ten minutes, until tender and crisp on the edges. Set aside.
- While the kale is roasting, put the quinoa in a large saucepan (large enough to hold all the cauliflower too) and add cold water so the pot is about ⅔ of the way filled. Turn the heat to high. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a gentle boil and set the timer for 7 minutes. When the timer goes off, add the cauliflower florets and once again turn the heat to high. Set the timer again for 7 minutes. Drain the quinoa and cauliflower and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add roasted kale and toss. Add most of the cheese, setting aside a handful to sprinkle on top. Add the milk, mustard, 1 teaspoon of salt or to taste, ½ teaspoon of black pepper or to taste, and onion powder, if using. Toss well to combine.
- Turn the oven down to 350ºF. Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake in upper third of the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crisp in spots. If you like the top to be extra crisp and brown, turn on the broiler for a minute or two, watching carefully to prevent burning.
- Serve hot.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: lunch, dinner
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: vegetarian cheesy cauliflower casserole, cauliflower casserole with kale, quinoa and cheddar
Would it be ok to add real onions vs onion powder?
Absolutely Emma. That would be delicious!
Any way to make this dairy free?
Hi Ella, my best suggestion is to use vegan shredded cheese in place of cheddar and coconut milk in place of dairy milk. I bet it will be great! You may also want to stir in some nutritional yeast for extra cheesy flavor. If you end up cooking a vegan version of this, I'd love to know how it turns out.
Great way to serve vegetables! This dish tastes and smells amazing. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Michelle, I'm so happy you enjoyed!! I really appreciate that you came back to leave a rating and a comment 🙂
I really loved this dish. I've made it twice already. The only change I made was to steam the cauliflower first, and then cook the quinoa in the same pot (no need to wash two pots!) The first time I made it as per your suggestions, but the cauliflower and quinoa in one pot was just too heavy for me to drain. Also, I didn't have a large strainer with small holes to catch the quinoa, so I had to place a small strainer inside a larger one to drain the quinoa and cauliflower. With my slight modification, this casserole is fairly easy to make and tastes excellent. My two grown children also loved it, and they can be critical. It's also so healthy. Thank you so much for a truly amazing dish. I will be making it a lot and passing on this recipe and your blog to others. I am so happy I found your blog and can't wait to try more recipes.
Made this last night to bring to Jane and Tom’s house. Easy and very satisfying! I used part skim milk and a mixture of skim mozzarella and sharp cheddar. If I had more time I would have added some buttered bread crumbs on top as a topping.
Hi Alina! I'm glad you enjoyed the casserole. Buttered bread crumbs on top sounds divine!
I made this and it's delicious! From my toddler to hid grandpa, everybody enjoyed it! I used unsweetened almond milk instead of whole (bc that's what I had) and sprinkled the top liberally with parmesan before popping it in the broiler at the end. I also finely diced some kale stems, a little celery, green onion, and carrot for color and crunch. I threw in some diced, sautéed chicken breast as well. I know I'm a deviant (lol) but I love this recipe. Thanks for sharing it!
I would like to be able to pin this to try later. I don't see anyway to do this! Help!
Hi Janice. I think I can help. Make sure you're on the page that has the full recipe (not the landing page, which has lots of recipes). Once you've clicked over to the page with the recipe, look under the title of the recipe - between the title and the top photo. You should see all of my sharing buttons there, including one with "P" for Pinterest. Click the "P" and you'll be able to save the recipe to one of your boards. I hope that helps!
Searching for kale recipes, I happened upon this and I made it this weekend. In fact, it sounded so good, I crossed my fingers and made a double batch and invited over a vegetarian friend to taste-test. I'm a latecomer to kale, so the leaf-tearing felt time-consuming to me, but the end result was perfect: a hearty, balanced, nicely textured comfort dish that got thumbs up from my friend (as he dug in) and thumbs up from this slightly pickier eater. A+++!