Get your comfort food fix with this creamy cauliflower, pasta and cheese gratin. Add hot sauce for a little more zip and enjoy with a green salad for a satisfying family-style dinner.
8 cups water
6 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
8 ounces uncooked small seashell pasta
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
2 teaspoons butter, melted
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 400°.
Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan; add cauliflower and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boiling water, and cook 4 minutes or until tender. Remove cauliflower with a slotted spoon, reserving cooking liquid; set cauliflower aside. Bring cooking liquid to a rolling boil. Add pasta, and cook 7 minutes or until al dente; drain and set aside.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine flour and milk in a saucepan, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in thyme and garlic; cook over medium heat until thick (about 8 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, cheeses, onions, mustard, and pepper. Combine cauliflower, pasta, and cheese sauce in a large bowl. Spoon the cauliflower mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Place bread in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form to measure 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs with butter; sprinkle evenly over cauliflower mixture. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
I really enjoyed this. My grand daughter had asked me to use some heart shaped pasta she had, so I did. It kind of broke apart and got lost in the dish - made it seem much more of a cauliflower dish than a pasta dish (which I liked- always like cauliflower in cheese sauce as a kid). We served with roaster carrots and chicken sausage. Very kid friendly meal.
This was very good. I agree with previous testers that it was a little bland. Next time around, I would definitely add some more dijon and some hot sauce for zip. I steamed my califlower instead of boiling it, just to avoid some loss of nutrients. The texture was great and my 16-month-old loved it!
This is a good recipe and I probably will make it again, but I will use even less thyme (I used less than 1/2 teaspoon this time and it was still too strong). I also added some Tony Cachere's for a little kick and it was nice.
It's snowy & I'm in the country, so I made it with fat-free condensed milk, the cheeses I had in the fridge (a little blue, a little Manchego, some Parmesan) and I used cavatappi pasta. Oh, and panko instead of the homemade crumbs. It was outstanding. I used 1/2 tsp. thyme and generous amounts of mustard, and sauteed a chopped onion with lots of garlic. (No scallions on hand). Served with a roasted beet & tangerine salad--big hit. A good mac & cheese can be made with any good cheese.
We really like this recipe. I made it tonight with frozen spinach instead of fresh because I had that on-hand. I buy a version that has little moisture from Trader Joe's so I defrost it right in the pan with the cooked onion. Tonight, I added a few bits of peppered bacon and stirred it in to the mix. Don't overcook the cauliflower because it will be soggy when you cook it in the oven. For the sauce, taste it along the way and spice it up before you mix it all together. You might need to add a bit more flavor like smoked paprika or white pepper. This recipe is great because it makes a lot of servings for leftovers or for a larger family and it's a one-pot meal.
This wasn't awful, but I would not make it again. Despite my efforts to zip it up with smoked paprika and sauteed red peppers, it remains rather bland. Cauliflower is delicate, and I think the pasta flattens out its otherwise delicious flavor. Might be okay as a side dish with a highly seasoned sausage.
I used full fat cheese, but everything was pretty much the same. I thought it was bland as well. I do admit that I overcooked the cauliflower, which had been blanched and frozen for several months, so that might have had something to do with it. But as is, not so spectacular.
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