• author
    • Randy Graham

    • February 10, 2014 in Columnists

    Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

     Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

    I love this combination of fresh cauliflower, tomatoes and tasty aged cheeses. It’s a recipe I modified from a 2008 Bon Appétit magazine article. The original recipe called for Comté cheese, which I found hard to find locally. I substituted Gruyere and Fontina cheeses which are found at most markets and are super tasty on their own. If you can find Comté, use it. I substituted sour cream for the original crème fraîche ingredient. I like the extra bite sour cream gives to this dish.  In addition, I also use fusilli pasta in place of the penne that the original recipe called for. I like the way the fusilli’s nooks and crannies hold the sauce. I’ve made it with penne but much prefer fusilli. Whichever pasta you choose to use, it’s good either way.

    3 cups cauliflower florets
    3 large heirloom tomatoes
    5 tablespoons butter (divided)
    1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
    2 tablespoons flour
    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    1 ½ cups Gruyère (grated)
    1 ½ cups Fontina (grated)
    3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
    1 cup sour cream
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    Salt to and fresh ground pepper to taste
    10 to 12 ounces fusilli pasta
    1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Cook cauliflower in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using large sieve, transfer cauliflower to bowl. Add tomatoes to pot; cook 1 minute. Remove from water; peel and dice tomatoes. Reserve pot of water.

    Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower; sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and green onions. Cook 1 minute to blend flavors. Remove from heat. Season with coarse salt and pepper.

    Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in cream. Cook until sauce thickens, whisking occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add 1 cup of the Gruyère and 1 cup of the Fontina cheeses. Whisk until melted and sauce is smooth. Whisk in ½ cup Parmesan, then sour cream and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

    Return reserved pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; return pasta to same pot. Stir in cauliflower mixture and sauce.

    Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon in half of pasta mixture; sprinkle with remaining Gruyère and Fontina cheeses. Top with remaining pasta mixture. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in small skillet. Add breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Remove from heat; mix in remaining ¼ cup Parmesan. Sprinkle crumbs over pasta.

    Bake pasta uncovered until heated through and bubbling, about 35 minutes.

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