Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Bake
This healthful and light baked pasta dish is packed with nutrition. Your pickiest eaters will not be aware they’re inhaling copious amounts of cauliflower and when you’re craving some comfort food, but don’t want it to “stuck to your ribs,” it’s got your back. This dish is so easy to customize. It may be as cheesy and decadent as you wish or lighten it up and/or go vegan. Use pasta of choice- traditional, gluten free, whole grain or legume/pulse based. Either way it’s hard to go wrong! I love adding a green veggie to this to elevate it a notch- broccoli florets, kale or other greens, peppers, anything goes. If adding any greens, I recommend a quick sautée and seasoning before mixing in.
Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Bake
Quantities are approximate. Adjust to taste and preference as you go!
Can be made vegan, dairy free, gluten free, paleo...
1 lb (approx 500 grams) penne or pasta of choice
1 Small-medium sized head of cauliflower
1 medium onion (sweet variety preferred)
1-2 cloves garlic (optional) ( I used garlic confit that I make a few times a year as it’s easier to digest)
2 cups milk of choice (dairy, nut, plant...)
1 cup pasta water- optional- this will depend upon thickness of purée.
1 Tsp Dijon mustard
Small pinch nutmeg (optional)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup grated cheese of choice (I love using goat cheddar or goat Gouda)
1/2 (or more) cup fresh grated Parmesan
Fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup Bread crumbs of choice (optional)
Green veggie of choice (broccoli, kale...) lightly sautéed and seasoned (optional)
1- Steam cauliflower, onion and garlic until soft and transfer to a high speed blender.
2- Set up a large pot of water, bring to a boil and salt generously. Add pasta and cook until just al dente (the cooking time should he stated on the package). The pasta will continue to absorb water during baking, so be careful not to overlook at this stage.
3- While pasta is cooking, purée cauliflower, onion and garlic with approx half of the milk (or as much as you need) until velvety. Transfer back to pot, add remaining milk,thyme, mustard and bring to a simmer. At this point, you may choose to add some additional liquid if you feel it’s necessary. Season with salt and pepper. (If you would like to enjoy this as soup. You’re done! Garnish as you see fit. Cauliflower works with most flavor profiles).
4- Strain pasta. Wipe a baking dish with olive oil. Add warm pasta to warm cauliflower mixture along with approximately 3/4 shredded cheddar and 1/2 the Parmesan and stir to coat. Toss is any additional sautéed veggies you may be using. Add all to baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 375F for approximately 20 minutes, until edges bubble slightly and top is golden brown.
It’s worth taking the extra effort to fresh grate the Parmesan. If your pressed for time, no judgments. It will still be delicious.
When feeding a crowd, I love to be generous with the cheese.
Before topping with remaining Parmesan and grated cheese, wipe the edge of your baking dish clean to avoid burnt markings after baking.
Ready to bake!
If I’ve filled my baking dish to the top, I like use a baking sheet in case anything bubbles over.
Feel free to use pasta of choice. This batch was made with buckwheat penne (and smoke amounts of broccoli).