Every once in a while I try to sneak a meatless meal onto our menu and pass it on by the resident carnivore. It's not easy, believe me. I made him a massive juicy burger for lunch yesterday so I'm not sure he missed the meat so much in last night's dinner. Uh ya - who am I kidding? I can see the evil stare from here and he's not even in the room. Ha.
Anyway, this dish is a take on good old fashioned macaroni cheese but kicked up a notch or ten. I added sour cream and Dijon mustard to the bechamel, made it extra cheesy with white cheddar and parmesan, gave it some color with diced canned tomatoes and added the roasted cauliflower. Along with a crazy kind of corkscrew shaped pasta topped with a blanket of buttered crumbs, the gratin hit the oven until bubbly and ooey cheesy gooey.
You know who said it was "good" which really meant this is OK for a change but don't make a habit out'a it. Somehow I imagine if I'd added a nice thick blue rare rib eye on the side, he'd have been doing handstands. Sheesh.
Personally, I thought it was quite tasty - creamy, rich, cheesy and satisfying with the nutty mild flavor of roasted cauliflower... I mean why have ordinary old cauliflower with cheese sauce when you can add pasta, right?
Incidentally, here's a photo of last night's sunset as taken through our living room window. It was a sunny and balmy 69 degrees here yesterday, identical to the day before I might add. It is the same view I enjoy from the island in the kitchen. Does it give you an idea why I'm not spending as much time in the kitchen these days?
Cheesy Baked Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower (Inspired by Bon Appetit)
1 medium head cauliflower, cored and broken into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 Tablespoons flour
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups milk or half and half
3 cups grated cheese (I used Tillamook White Cheddar)
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Salt and course ground pepper
1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
8 ounces pasta cooked per package directions and well drained
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 425. Toss cauliflower with olive oil and place on a sheet pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden and still slightly firm. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce heat to 350.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in medium sauce pan. Add onion and sauté until softened. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Whisk in half and half and cook, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add cheese, sour cream, Dijon mustard and parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as required. Toss cooked pasta, roasted cauliflower and diced tomatoes with sauce and move to a gratin dish or 9 x 13 casserole that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with breadcrumbs. Sprinkle on top of casserole. Place in oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbling and crumbs are toasted. Makes 6 to 8 servings.