Makes 6 servings
1 medium head orange cauliflower (white can be substituted)
1/2 pound small pasta like gemelli, elbows or shells I recommend Barilla Plus Elbows (note: make 3/4 pound pasta, so you can add more if there is too much sauce. My cauliflower was large & there was a lot of sauce--I wished I had made more pasta to add to the sauce)
2 Tablespoons Smart Balance butter substitute
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups skim milk, plus 1/2 cup for pureeing cauliflower (I used Lactaid with extra-calcium)
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese, plus 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top
A generous amount of salt and several cranks of freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon fajita or Mexican spices, optional
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs (I used corn flake crumbs)
1 Tablespoon Smart Balance butter substitute
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Trim cauliflower and break into small florets. Boil until tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain. Place in a blender or processor with 1/2 cup milk and puree until thick and smooth. Set aside.
Cook pasta according to directions until al dente.
For the sauce, melt 2 tablespoons Smart Balance in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk briskly. Gradually add 2 cups milk, whisking continuously, until it reaches a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes, or until thick and bubbly. Add the pureed cauliflower, 1 cup cheddar cheese, and a generous amount of salt and black pepper. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat. Add cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and toss until well coated. Pour into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheddar evenly over the top.
For the buttered breadcrumbs, melt 1 tablespoon Smart Balance butter substitute in a small skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and toss until coated with butter. Sprinkle even over the top of the cheddar.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown on top and the cheese sauce is bubbling around the edges.
- My Notes: I personally have a hard time making lump-free white sauces--and I probably wasn't using the right-sized whisk for the job. I ended up blending the milk/flour mixture in a blender before I added the pureed cauliflower just to get it smooth.
- The recipe made a lot of sauce (probably because my cauliflower was larger than the Food Blogga's). I wished I had planned ahead & had more cooked pasta to add. But, even though it looked pretty "saucy", it absorbed well, tasted great, & was even better the next night.
- Don't be afraid of the odd sounding combo here. It's yummy.
- Be sure to correct to your own taste on the salt, pepper & Mexican spices, if you use them.