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Sicilian cauliflower baked mac n cheese with Mezzetta

December 4, 2014

Sicilian cauliflower baked pasta

Sometimes good dishes happen by beautiful mistakes. More on this in a minute.

Since the holidays are in full swing, Mezzetta asked us about holiday memories when it comes to food. Since Thanksgiving was just upon us, I remember why it’s my favorite: every year, regardless if I’m in Chicago or on the east coast, it’s always a family-filled evening where we all come together to cook, bake, eat, and play games all night. This year, we had a full spread of whole chickens, roasted lamb, crostinis, and casseroles. When Mezzetta asked us to come up with holiday recipe, I was thinking of ways to make something that I could add to that spread next time, something simple but also tasty.

Mezzetta jalapenos and roasted red peppers

When I looked at recipes for inspiration, I came across one that I thought was baked mac and cheese from the picture. I realized only when I came home I was actually got ingredients for a cauliflower gratin. I had already invited my friend Shazeen to come over for ‘baked mac n’ cheese’ so I didn’t want her to be disappointed. Then I thought, why not mix up the two?

So I did. And it turned out to a pretty good dish with a mix of all the natural flavors the veggies and spices put together. Thus, my beautiful mistake. Plus, I was able to pull it off in less than an hour, so it was ready to be served warm by the time my guest arrived.

Sicilian Cauliflower Baked Pasta with Mezzetta


Mezzetta Deli Sliced Hot Jalapeño Peppers (about 10), diced
Mezzetta Deli Sliced Roasted Bell Pepper Strips (about 10), sliced
Mezzetta Pitted Greek Kalamata Olives (about 18), sliced
2 cups whole grain elbow macaroni
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
1 tsp minced garlic
Black Pepper
Italian seasoning
1/2 cup Asiago cheese, grated
1/4 cup Mozarella cheese, grated

Break up the cauliflower into small florets while you bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and drop in the cauliflower. Boil 5 minutes while you fill a bowl with ice and water. Transfer the cauliflower to the ice water, let sit for a couple of minutes, then drain and place on paper towels.

Chopped cauliflower

2. In a separate pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, and then add noodles. Let boil under noodles are tender. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin dish. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes, and add a pinch of salt and the garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until fragrant and translucent. Remove from the heat and stir in the olives, jalapenos and roasted red peppers. Season with pepper and Italian seasoning.

Sauteed red onions

Place the cauliflower and cooked noodles in the baking dish and season generously with the Italian seasoning. Add the onion, olive, red pepper, and jalapeno mixture. Spread out evenly then top with the kale. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and season with a little more pepper.


Topped with kale


Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is nicely browned. Serve hot or warm.

Since the dish is mostly veggies, and a light blanket of cheese, it still tastes light. The baked kale adds a nice crisp to each bite. Want to try your own dish using Mezzetta products? Mezzetta is offering a downloadable $.50 off coupon on any of their products. What’s more, they’re offering a Daily Holiday Gift Basket Giveaway from now until Dec 31st, where you can enter to win daily prizes. Each day a winner will be selected at random, and prizes will be shipped within two weeks. Click here to enter now!

*Many thanks to Mezzetta for sponsoring today’s #MezzettaMemories recipe story and encouraging me to spice up my favorite Holiday recipe.

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