Thursday, 6 March 2014

Cauliflower power cheesy pasta

I do believe it was Nigella who once told me to never apologise for my food. She may have told others this but she was certainly in my living room at the time -although she was in her kitchen - she most definitely was addressing me. It could only have been witchcraft. Anyway, I do not apologise for this basic, family friendly offering. This is my children's favourite dinner. Us "grown ups" have to jazz the flavour up a bit with a hit of sweet chilli sauce but the kids go mad for it. I whizz the cauliflower up not because my two are adverse to it and not because I'm advocating the "hidden vegetable" business some of us have got stuck in, but to give the sauce a thick cheese sauce consistency minus the fat and faff of making a roux.

The beauty of this dinner is that you can whack the flavours up and adapt it to suit your tastes. Add fried smoked bacon, chorizo, mushrooms, tuna, chilli, sweetcorn or tomatoes. Make it luxurious by using mascarpone instead of soft cheese and top with mozzarella. Here it is in a very basic form...

Serves 2 adults and 2 children

300g pasta shapes
1 head of cauliflower roughly chopped
150g broccoli florets
1 leek, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
150ml milk
150-200g soft cheese
Big handful of grated cheese (more if you like)
2 handfuls of frozen peas

1. Preheat oven to 180c fan
2. Cook pasta for 9-10 minutes add the broccoli 4 minutes before the end of cooking time. Drain and reserve a small slop of the cooking water put the pasta and broccoli back in the saucepan.
3. Fry the leek until soft add the garlic for 1 minute then add the milk and simmer.
4. Meanwhile boil the cauliflower till very soft. Drain and either whizz up or mash into a smooth.puree. Add the cauliflower, soft and grated cheese and peas to the milk and leek mixture and stir over a low heat till it comes together. Season to taste.
5. Add the sauce to the pasta and broccoli, mixing well. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with more cheese (if you are feeling fancy, some breadcrumbs too). Cook in oven for 20-30 mins till cheese is golden


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