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Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Bake

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Bake

Winter is here and so is the desire for comfort food! Try this

healthier casserole version of a Creamy Cauliflower Pasta

Bake!

 

Mash it up!

Nope, not potatoes this time! Instead, I am talking about the nutritious and versatile cauliflower! Sneak in this cruciferous vegetable in your next mashed potatoes, fried rice dish, and yes, a casserole! Cauliflower lends not only tons of vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamins C and B-6, but also incredible texture. Here are some ways cauliflower acts as an all-star in the kitchen:

  • Cauliflower florets pulsed in a food processor into little granules can imitate rice. This gives a starchy fried rice dinner more balance with extra vegetables included. For more on making cauliflower rice, read this article by The Kitchn.
  • Are you a  “meat and potatoes” fan? Try sneaking in mashed cooked cauliflower with your favorite potato for even more fiber and nutrition.
  • Want to cut down on excess saturated fats in your cream sauces? Just as I did for this cauliflower pasta bake, blend in some mashed cauliflower with a splash of either stock or low fat milk to form a thick liquid base.

 

 

cauliflower pasta
Cauliflower pasta prior to baking. Top with breadcrumbs, bake in the oven, and enjoy!

 

cauliflower pasta
Topped with crispy, golden breadcrumbs adds texture to this hearty dish!

 

Recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Bake…

This dish can be easily modified based on your dietary preferences. If you prefer a gluten-restricted recipe, substitute gluten-free pasta for the regular pasta and gluten-free breadcrumbs for the panko breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs can be homemade using regular or gluten-free bread by toasting in the oven and then pulsing in a food processor.

If you prefer a vegan alternative with no animal products, use dairy-free cheese alternative or sprinkle in some nutritional yeast that has a natural cheesy flavor. The milk used to make the sauce can be dairy-free as well, such as unsweetened soy, almond, or coconut milk.

Are you a big fan of cauliflower? Try my other recipes using cauliflower listed below.

Harissa Roasted Cauliflower Bites

Cauliflower Pizza with Spring Vegetables

 

 

 

 

 

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Bake

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow pasta, uncooked
  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped with core removed
  • 1-2 leeks halved lengthwise then sliced
  • 8 ounces green peas (thawed if frozen)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup spinach leaves, chopped (thawed if frozen)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (save 1/4 cup for sauce)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • Sauce:
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup milk of your choice
  • Parmesan cheese set aside

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
  2. In a large pot, bring water to boil and cook pasta (according to package directions). Once cooked al dentre drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Return pasta to the pot and set aside.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil on medium high in a large skillet or non-stick pan. Saute the cauliflower florets until lightly browned about 5-7 minutes. Remove half of the cauliflower and set aside.
  4. Add the garlic to the pan of cauliflower and continue sauteeing for an additional minute. Pour in the milk and simmer until the cauliflower softens with a fork about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the cauliflower and milk mixture until a thick sauce is formed. Pour in 1/4 cup pasta water at a time if you prefer a thinner sauce.
  5. Toss in the 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Set aside.
  6. Add the peas, spinach, and leeks to the pot of pasta and stir to combine. Transfer the pasta mixture to a casserole dish ( I used a 9x9 baking dish).
  7. Pour the sauce over the pasta mixture and stir to combine. Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and top with breadcrumbs.
  8. Bake in the oven for up to 20 minutes or until the cheese has evenly melted and the breadcrumbs have just started to brown.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Optional: Sprinkle fresh herbs such as parsley or thyme leaves
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