Cooking Wright

Baked pasta and broccoli with ham and cheesy-creamy cauliflower sauce


1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small head cauliflower, cored and chopped (about 3 cups)
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 medium shallots, roughly chopped (or sub about 1/2-3/4 cup diced onion)
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
4 tsp all-purpose flour
4 c skim milk
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (i did just under that, between 1/8-1/4)
6 oz pecorino cheese, grated (about 2 cups - could sub fresh grated parmesan)
1/2 lb medium multigrain pasta shells or bowties
1/4 lb sliced smoked ham, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium bunch broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets (3-5 cups)
optional: 1/2 cup toasted whole-wheat panko (Japanese bread crumbs) for serving


1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cauliflower, garlic, shallots, and 1/2 tsp salt; cook until softened but not brown, about 10 min, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with flour; stir to coat well.

2. Gradually stir in milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; gently simmer until cauliflower is very soft, about 15 min. Let cool for 5 min. Transfer all to a blender, and puree with nutmeg and half the pecorino until smooth , about 2 minutes.

3. preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until slightly tender but not fully cooked, about 5 min. (Note: if you like your broccoli pretty tender, add it to boiling pasta water for a couple of minutes before draining). Drain well; return to pot. Add ham, broccoli, and cauliflower sauce; toss to combine. Transfer to an ovenproof 3 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining pecorino, and bake until bubbling in center, about 30 min. Heat broiler and broil until golden brown on top, 1-2 min. Divide among dishes, top with breadcrumbs (if using), and serve immediately.

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