Creamy pasta and cauliflower gratin

If you read the post about cauliflower risotto you’ll know that cauliflowers are behaving a bit like buses round here at the moment – none for ages then two came along at once. Having seen off the first, the second was lurking in the bottom of the fridge, daring me to cook it. I capitulated.

Having retrieved it from the vegetable drawer, I looked at what else needed using up. Luckily there was a pot of cream (best before tomorrow), some cream cheese, and not one but two packs of mature cheddar (on special offer, apparently). We were in business.

I offered Kipper the choice of pasta or potatoes, and she took the pasta option. She must really have been in the mood for pasta, because having polished off her first portion of pasta and cauliflower gratin, she then had second and third helpings, but, “just the pasta, Mummy.”

The sauce does look a bit of a faff, but I can assure you it’s really pretty simple, and the end result is creamy, unctuous, and decidedly more-ish (see Kipper’s reaction, above). It’s fantastic with other vegetables too, or just with pasta, and probably on a wide and various assortment of things. I strongly encourage you to give it a whirl.

This served two adults and a very hungry small person, with a little bit leftover.

creamy pasta and cauliflower gratin

Hot from the oven – gooey, saucy and yummily comforting. Creamy pasta and cauliflower gratin.

Creamy pasta and cauliflower gratin

You will need:
1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets – about 700-750g
150g short pasta e.g. penne, fusilli etc.
25g margarine or butter
10g flour (1 tbsp)
300ml hot vegetable stock
100ml double cream
50g cream cheese
1 dtsp whole grain mustard
50g mature cheddar cheese, grated + another 30g or thereabouts for the top

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cook the pasta and cauliflower in boiling water. I usually get the pasta going in a massive pot, then when it has 5 minutes to go, I chuck the cauliflower in, bring it back up to the boil, and cook them together. But you can use two pans if you prefer 🙂
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the margarine/butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for a few seconds. Gradually add the hot stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Then simmer, stirring, for a minute or two to cook the flour.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and cream cheese. Mix well to amalgamate. You may need to return it to the heat for a few seconds to melt the cream cheese.
Stir in the mustard.
Drain the pasta and cauliflower. Mix with the sauce and cheese and pour into a large gratin dish. Grate the remaining cheese over the top and bake for 15 minutes or so until browning on top.
Et voila! Creamy pasta and cauliflower gratin!


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