Cheesy Baked Penne with Roasted Cauliflower

Creamy, tangy, yummy and cheesy. This cauliflower and pasta gratin is a nice adult alternative to the more traditional macaroni and cheese.

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Cheesy Baked Penne with Roasted Cauliflower and Creme Fraiche

2 T olive oil
2 small heads of cauliflower (we used heads of purple & orange cauliflower in our dish), cut into 1-inch florets
1 T butter
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup diced green onions/scallions
salt & pepper

1 cup whole milk
2 T all purpose flour
2 T butter
3 cups medium cheddar cheese (we used a nice block of Harvest Moon Cheese from Castle Rock Farms in Osseo, WI)
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup creme fraiche
1 T dijon mustard

8 oz whole wheat penne (or other squatty pasta)
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 425º
Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil and place on large baking sheet. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until just tender and beginning to brown. Place roasted cauliflower in a large bowl and set aside. Turn oven temperature down to 350º

While cauliflower is cooking, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions. Saute briefly, and then add tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour tomato mixture over roasted cauliflower and stir to combine.

Melt 2 T butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk, cooking for 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken. Add 2 cups cheddar cheese. Continue to whisk until sauce is smooth. Then, add 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, creme fraiche, and mustard. Stir until well combined. Remove from heat and stir cheese mixture into cauliflower. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just tender (since the pasta dish will bake in the oven, you do not want the pasta to be fully cooked). Drain pasta and add to cauliflower mixture. Butter a large glass or ceramic baking dish (13x9). Spoon half of pasta mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese over the pasta, and then layer the remaining pasta mixture over the cheese. Top with bread crumbs and remaining Asiago cheese.

Bake in 350º oven for 35-40 minutes, until heated through and bubbling.

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Anonymous said...

That sounds amazing- perfect for this time of year. Will have to try it very soon- thanks for sharing the recipe! And I love your use of "squatty" to describe the pasta shapes. ;)

Anonymous said...

I cooked this recipe a few days ago at home with my husband,(he says I can´t be left alone in the kitchen), and we used some Spanish cheese instead cheddar, oh my god!, it was awesome, we just couldn´t believe, it´s such a small change however the flavour was much nicer, just have a look at this website, I´m sure you are going to like

kind regards