Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

Take me to the recipe!

So, I have to confess something: I’m not sold on the pretend-cauliflower-is-the-same-as-carbs trend. I’ve had the Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi and it’s good, but it’s not gnocchi. I’ve resisted cauliflower pizza crust because…I just…can’t. I like cauliflower rice, but only with other strong flavors.

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

However, I do like cauliflower, especially when it’s covered in cheese, garlic, and breadcrumbs.

Cacio e pepe purists may hate this recipe, but hear me out. The best part of cacio e pepe is the creamy sauce that’s achieved by mixing the starchy pasta water with cheese. But when you roast cauliflower, the stalks and larger pieces actually do get a little creamy.

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners
Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners
Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

And my kiddo likes things with a crunch more than things that are soft and creamy, so throwing in a little panko is a nice textural counterpoint to the softer cheese and veggies.

Add a drained can of chickpeas and you have an actually filling vegetarian meal or a hearty side.

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas

1 large head of cauliflower
1 can chick peas; drained, rinsed, and dried
3 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
5-6 grinds of freshly ground pepper
¾ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (3 oz)
2 large cloves garlic
¼ cup panko
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 425.

Drain and dry one can of chickpeas. Set aside.

Remove the leaves from your cauliflower, but leave the central core intact. Chop into 1-inch slices. You’ll probably get between 2 and 4 intact steaks and the rest will fall into florets, which is fine.

Place the cauliflower steaks and chickpeas onto your sheet pan and then fill in with cauliflower florets.

Brush the steaks, florets, and beans with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the steaks are just fork tender. (You don’t want mushy cauliflower, but this is the majority of the cooking the steaks will do, so use your best judgment about how cooked you like your veggies.)

While the veggies and beans are roasting, pulse the cheese in a food processor until it’s in coarse crumbles (if not using pre-grated). Add the garlic, panko, salt, and pepper and pulse until the garlic is minced and everything is mixed together. Set aside.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven. 

Spread a thin layer of mayo over the steaks and any of the larger florets of cauliflower. Top liberally with the cheese, panko, salt, and pepper mixture. Press lightly into the steaks to get the cheese to stick.

Return to the oven and roast for another 10-12 minutes until the cheese is brown and crunchy. Keep an eye out that the cheese doesn’t burn.

Yield: 4-6 side dishes, 2-3 main dishes

Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners
Cacio e pepe cauliflower and chickpeas | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian sheetpan dish hits all the right notes of cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and delicious. It’s filled with protein and appealing to vegetarians and carnivores alike. #meandthemoose #sheetpanmeals #vegetarianrecipes #cauliflower #cheese #cacioepepe #chickpeas #vegetarian #vegetariandinners

Stovetop lasagna

Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese

Listen, chatty Kathy, take me to the recipe

It’s so cold. And so dreary. And so dark. All I want to do is hibernate under a giant blanket and eat cheesy pasta. You?

But, I also feel really low energy. Like, I don’t have the wherewithal for a complicated, multi-step, multi-method recipe. So, I reconcile these incompatible ideas with stovetop lasagna. Cook the noodles in a jarred sauce, top with cheese, and serve. Seriously, so so easy and so so good.

Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese
Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese

A few notes:

  • I added turkey to this dish to increase the protein, but feel free to leave it out to make it vegetarian.

  • There’s pesto in the ingredients photo because adding some dollops of pesto in this dish is fab. But I bought a mass-market brand pesto that was, in a word, inedible. So, I wanted to add it to the photo, but we actually eat the food I photograph and I could NOT stomach this sauce. Use one you’ve had before and liked, one you’ve made, or skip it.

  • When you start the noodle cooking, make sure the noodles aren’t touching (see the photo above). They’ll start touching through the cooking process and you’ll stir to keep them from sticking together, but I’ve found that as long as you start off with the noodles not touching, they’re easy to separate later on.

  • It might seem like a lot of liquid, but the noodles soak up a lot of it and you still want the sauce to be saucy.

Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese

Stovetop lasagna

1 Tbsp olive oil or butter
1 small onion, minced
2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground turkey
3 cups tomato sauce (about a 32 oz jar of sauce)
2 cup stock (turkey, chicken, or vegetable), divided  
13 regular or no-boil lasagna noodles (half of a box, uncooked, broken in half)
Mozzarella balls

In a large cast iron pan (with a lid) or Dutch oven, saute the onions on medium heat until translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute, until fragrant.

Add the turkey and cook, breaking up any large chunks, until no pink remains, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce and broth and stir to combine. Turn the heat to high to start heating the sauce.

Break the uncooked noodles roughly into halves or thirds (don’t mind the noodle shrapnel that will ensue; just toss it all in the pot) and tuck them into the sauce, making sure they don’t touch each other. (You want them to be perpendicular to how you would normally layer the noodles in lasagna.)

Turn the heat to medium high and cover your pot and cook the lasagna for five minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium or medium low and stir the noodles around (it’s okay if they touch now), cover, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Uncover and stir the noodles and separate any that have begun to stick together. If the sauce looks like it’s cooking down too much, add more stock ¼ cup at a time.

Cook, uncovered, for 3-5 more minutes. Stir the noodles and sauce frequently to ensure that nothing is sticking or cooking too fast. Add more stock as needed. Cook until the noodles are al dente and just about done.

Add the cheese, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes until the cheese melts.

Yield: 6 large bowls

Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese
Stovetop turkey lasagna | Me & The Moose. This one-pot meal is the fastest, easiest route to cheesy pasta that will comfort anyone in these cold, dark months. #meandthemoose #lasagna #stovetoplasagna #onepotmeals #easydinner #dinnerrecipes #dinner #onepotdinner #stovetop #cheese

Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole

Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles

I don’t know if the abundance of sugar, salt, and fat change my tastebuds during the holidays, but I always struggle to live by the 80/20 rule in December. I indulge with the eating and drinking and then swear I’m going to be healthy the next day, but the healthy stuff never feels all that satisfying or tastes all that good. So I end up like a moth to a flame with the treats.

But you know what? I don’t have to toggle between bland salads and a dozen cookies. This polenta casserole may just be the middle ground: It’s still delicious and a little indulgent with a garlicky pesto and plenty of cheese on top, but it also features kale and ground turkey breast and is the perfect vehicle for any of those leftover veggies in your fridge that are about to go bad. Throw them in and see what happens!

I used my own kale pesto recipe, but cut down on the oil and nuts. But for ease, feel free to use any store-bought pesto that you can find. And to up the nutrition, add any veggies you have in your fridge. You may need to add a bit more pesto to cover the extra ingredients.

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Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles
Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles

Polenta casserole

1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lb ground turkey
Large pinch of salt
¾-1 cup kale pesto (recipe below)
1 log premade polenta
½ cup mozzarella, shredded
½ cup hard gouda (not the softer, smoked variety), shredded
¼ cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425.

In a large oven-safe sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium flame. Turn the heat to medium-low and sauté the ground turkey until no pink remains and it has just begun to brown, about 7-10 minutes. Season with a large pinch of salt.

Turn off the heat and stir in the kale pesto.

Slice the polenta log into 1/4 –inch pieces and layer over the turkey and pesto.

Top with cheese and cook in the oven for 13-15 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling.  

Yield: 4 servings

Kale pesto

4 cups packed chopped kale
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp olive oil

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and fill another large bowl with ice water. Wash and chop kale, leaving the middle stems.

When water is at a rolling boil, add the kale and swirl with a slotted spoon a few times. After 1-2 minutes, remove it from the boiling water and add it to the bowl of ice water. Drain the kale (gently squeeze out the water) and add to your blender or food processor.

Roast the walnuts in a 350 oven or toaster oven for about 5 minutes or until just lightly browned and starting to smell nutty. You can also toast them in a sauté pan on the stove top. When browned, add them to the blender or food processor as well.

Add the garlic, salt, and lemon juice and start to blend, slowly adding the olive oil in a thin stream. If using a small food processor or a blender without a top that opens, just add the oil with the rest of the ingredients and process together. Blend until you've reached your desired consistency.

Yield: about 1 cup

Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles

Meatless Monday: Black bean dip

Black bean dip | Me & The Moose. This quick dip can go in tacos, quesadillas, and nachos for a hearty and fast meatless meal. And who doesn’t love dip for dinner? #meandthemoose #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #blackbeans #texmex #dip #dinner #lunch #lunchbox

Hear me out: Let’s serve dip for dinner tonight. Or in your kids’ lunchboxes tomorrow. And credit where it’s due: This recipe is cribbed almost entirely from M’s dad as black bean dip is one of his signature party dishes.

This gloop is primarily black beans, with just a smidge of cream cheese for richness and some onions, garlic, and spices to make it aromatic. Add in a dash of lime juice for acid, a smattering of shredded cheese on top that gets all melty and crispy in the oven, and you have a quick and hearty dish in about 30 minutes. AND, you can make it an even faster meal if you a small cast-iron or other oven-safe saute pan.

Black bean dip | Me & The Moose. This quick dip can go in tacos, quesadillas, and nachos for a hearty and fast meatless meal. And who doesn’t love dip for dinner? #meandthemoose #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #blackbeans #texmex #dip #dinner #lunch #lunchbox
Black bean dip | Me & The Moose. This quick dip can go in tacos, quesadillas, and nachos for a hearty and fast meatless meal. And who doesn’t love dip for dinner? #meandthemoose #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #blackbeans #texmex #dip #dinner #lunch #lunchbox

The taste and texture of this dip remind me of refried beans, but better.

You can scoop it into tortillas with some fresh veggies for a meatless dinner that’s full of protein. Or add shredded rotisserie chicken or other leftover proteins from the weekend for an even heartier meal. OR squash this concoction between tortillas for a dinner or lunch quesadilla.

Also, M is very keen on chips and dip as dinner, but I don’t want him to burn out on guacamole as it’s one of our go-to’s. And beans are an excellent source of non-meat protein, so if he’s suddenly off of meat, which toddlers often are, this dip helps to fill him up for a good night’s sleep (hopefully).

Black bean dip | Me & The Moose. This quick dip can go in tacos, quesadillas, and nachos for a hearty and fast meatless meal. And who doesn’t love dip for dinner? #meandthemoose #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #blackbeans #texmex #dip #dinner #lunch #lunchbox

Black bean dip

1 Tbsp olive oil
½ large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp oregano
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup cream cheese
½ tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp lime juice
1-2 Tbsp water
1-1½ cups shredded cheddar and Monterey jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 400. (I don’t use the broiler for this one because I want it to warm the dip while it melts the cheese and the broiler is a bit too much heat, too fast.)

In a small skillet (bonus if it’s oven safe! You’ll only need one pan!), heat the olive oil over a medium low flame. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute until fragrant. Add the spices and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly while you prep the rest of your ingredients.

Place the cooked onions, garlic, and spices in a blender or food processor. Add the drained and rinsed black beans, cream cheese, salt and lime juice. Pulse several times until the ingredients are well broken up, but not liquified, scraping down the sides as needed.

Continue pulsing while you add the water 1 tsp at a time until you’ve reached the right consistency. I like this dip to be somewhere between chunky and liquidy. There is definitely some texture, but no “chunks’ of beans.

Put the mixture back into your oven-safe skillet or into a small casserole dish. The wider and shallower the dish, the more surface area you have for cheese, so pick accordingly. Top with the shredded cheese and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and begins to crisp on the sides and bubble in the middle.

Yield: 4 cups of dip

Black bean dip | Me & The Moose. This quick dip can go in tacos, quesadillas, and nachos for a hearty and fast meatless meal. And who doesn’t love dip for dinner? #meandthemoose #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #blackbeans #texmex #dip #dinner #lunch #lunchbox

Meatless Monday: Pumpkin mac and cheese

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Fall is here! And I’m all in. I love summer as much as the next gal (tomatoes! the beach! relaxed schedules! sunshine! longer days!), but I can only take so much sweating before I’m ready for fleeces and squash (leaves changing! fires! apple picking! Halloween! schedules!).

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This mac and cheese is warming, cheesy, and chock full of veggies. It also works as dinner or lunch (or both!). I’ve made this with some sausage on the side for an even heartier meal, but it’s very filling on its own.

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A couple of notes:
- I use half roasted squash and half pumpkin (butternut or acorn squash is my favorite, but you could use kobocha or delicata) because I don’t always love straight pumpkin pasta sauces. There is something heavy and somehow both flavorless and overwhelming about a sauce made with just pumpkin.
- The most time consuming part of this recipe is cooking the onions. A longer, slower cook yields much better flavor that significantly improves the final dish. I recommend taking the time.
- This recipe makes twice as much sauce as you need. You can either freeze half, or make two boxes (2 lbs) of pasta for a large family. We’ve found that using 1 box of pasta and freezing half of the sauce yields one dinner for the three of us and two lunches for M (and some late-night picking for us).

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Pumpkin mac and cheese

1 Tbsp olive oil, butter, ghee, or your fat of choice
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
10 large sage leaves (about 1 Tbsp), minced
½ tsp kosher salt
½-1 can pumpkin puree
½ small acorn squash (or about 1 cup any type of squash), roasted
½-1 cup milk
½ cup gruyere, shredded
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup grated parmesan
1 lb pasta
1/2 cup reserved pasta water

Preheat the oven to 425. Cut your squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut-side down on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake until fork tender, about 20-30 minutes.  


Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil. (I add 2 heaping tsp of salt to my pasta water and that usually does the trick.) Cook your pasta according to package directions (towards the end of cooking your onions). Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the thinly sliced onions. Brown, stirring often, until caramelized, about 25- 30 minutes. Don’t worry if your onions become a little frizzled or fried instead of caramelized. I tend to forget them or have the flame up too high for a minute. Either way, they’ll taste delicious as long as they’re well cooked.

Add the garlic and sage to the onions and cook for one minute, or until fragrant. Remove from the heat.

In a blender or food processor, combine the cooked onions, garlic, sage, acorn (or other) squash, pumpkin puree, and cheese. Blend on high. Slowly add the milk until you’ve reached your desired consistency.* Scrape down the sides as needed.

Pour about 1/2 of the sauce into a large container for another time.

Drain your pasta, but reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Put the pasta back into the pasta pot, top with ½ of the sauce, and thin out as needed with the reserved pasta water. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

*The amount of milk you’ll need depends largely on your squash. Some squash have more water in them, so you’ll need less milk. Start with ¼ cup and add more as needed.

Yield: 4 adult-sized dinner servings, 6 kid-sized dinner servings, or more if you’re serving this for lunch

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