This recipe is a great version of the much-loved, original Mac’n’Cheese, one of our favourite childhood meal. It’s creamy and crunchy at the same time: the whole family will love it. It also takes no time and very little effort to prepare it.
The good thing about cauliflower is, that it’s packed with Vitamin C, K and B6, fiber, protein and Omega-3 fats. So it’s basically just like fish 🙂 Therefore, if you can see any chance to smuggle it into any dish, give it a try.
Both toddler and weaning diet compatible: depending on how soft the pasta is. You can even mash it even further down if you wanted to. You can play around with how much cauliflower you want to use: not everyone (i.e most of the kids) can’t stand the smell of cauliflower, but you can outsmart them by hiding it well. Add less of it and add more cheese, cream cheese or herbs. Either way it will be a delightful vegetarian dish.
I used fussili as pasta, because it’s easier for little hands to grab them. But penne will do it too. The recipe below will give you 2 grown-up portions and 3-4 toddler portions, so you can put some into the freezer.
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1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets (8-9 larger florets)
300g fussili pasta
250g medium Cheddar cheese, grated
50g unsalted butter + a knob of room temperature butter with the breadcrumb
200ml full fat milk
1 tbsp flour
100g soft breadcrumb
Handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped finely.
hint of nutmeg (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Steam the cauliflower florets above boiling water for about 15-20 minutes. (You can also choose to cook them of course.) Mash them with a fork roughly.
Cook the pasta until it’s al dente or soft, depending on how soft you want it.
Whilst the pasta is cooking, prepare your bechamel sauce. Melt the 50g butter in a pan. Add the tbsp of flour, shimmer it until golden brown. Add half of the milk and keep stirring occasionally. Once it’s beginning to thicken, add the nutmeg, little salt and pepper. half of the grated cheese and finally the other half of the milk. Keep stirring. This will give you a nice, creamy, but somewhat watery texture. This is what we want, because it will cook further in the oven, plus, the pasta will absorb some liquid from it.
Now, combine all: pasta, cauliflower, bechamel, the other half of the cheese, parsley in a casserole or baking dish.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the soft butter in a cup with your fingers until you can’t see the butter bits and sprinkle it evenly on the top of the dish.
Into the oven for about 30 minutes on 200C. I hardly ever preheat oven, if you do, it will take less than 30 min. Bake it until the breadcrumb on the top turns nice golden brown.