Kimchi’d Mac and Cheese

This recipe transforms a classic comfort food. As it cooks, the pieces of cauliflower break down into the cheesy sauce, creating an earthy, rich, and intensely creamy flavor. Serve this dish with a big bowl of lightly dressed greens, and you’ve got a satisfying meal.

You can find this recipe and lots more in our new cookbook, "Fresh & Fermented: 85 Delicious Ways to Make Fermented Carrots, Kraut, and Kimchi Part of Every Meal."

Photography by Charity Burggraaf

Photography by Charity Burggraaf

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 6 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup unsalted butter (1⁄2 stick)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese (1 pound)
  • 11⁄2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (6 ounces)
  • 4 cups finely chopped cauliflower (about 1 medium cauliflower)
  • 11⁄2 cups Firefly Kimchi, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper 1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

Put the water and salt in a large pot, and bring it to a boil. Add the penne and cook, following the package directions, until it’s tender yet firm to the bite. Drain the pasta well. Return it to the pot (off the heat) and toss it with the olive oil.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium sauté pan. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir, cooking for another minute. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Add both cheeses, stirring until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture over the cooked pasta. Mix in the cauliflower.

Take the kimchi out of the jar with a clean fork, letting any extra brine drain back into it. Roughly chop the kimchi and mix it into the pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper.Spread the pasta mixture evenly in the prepared pan. Top with the bread crumbs, and bake until bubbly and brown, 30 to 35 minutes.

*(c)2014 By Julie O’Brien and Richard Climenhage. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Fresh & Fermented: 85 Delicious Ways to Make Fermented Carrots, Kraut, and Kimchi Part of Every Meal by permission of Sasquatch Books.