Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Cauliflower Cheese and Spinach Pasta Bake

I don't really like cauliflower. I've always found that it doesn't really taste of anything and find it a bit of a pointless vegetable. So I'm trying to find new recipes which might inspire me to like it. The first was the vegetable biryani I made a couple of weeks go, and that was ok, the taste is covered by loads of spice. This is the second one, it also used up the second half of the cauliflower! This was a really tasty dish, but I still found the cauliflower a bit pointless! It would have been a lovely dish with just the spinach, leeks and pine nuts, without the cauliflower.

But because it was actually a delicious pasta dish, I thought I'd add it to this weeks Presto Pasta Nights. This week it is hosted by Kirsten of From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours. Check out her blog for the round up on Friday.

Cauliflower Cheese and Spinach Pasta Bake (adapted from Good Food Magazine January 2010)
(Serves 6)

2 tubs ready made cheese sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
100g extra mature cheddar , grated
25-50g blue cheese
½ tsp finely grated nutmeg
250g penne
2 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
1 leek, sliced
750g frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
25g toasted pine nuts

4 garlic cloves , 3 sliced, 1 left whole
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
700g jar tomato passata

For the tomato sauce, cook the sliced garlic in the oil for 1 min, then add the passata. Season, half-cover the pan and simmer for 20 mins until rich.

Meanwhile, heat the cheese sauce, then stir in the mustard, most of the cheddar, half the blue cheese and half the nutmeg.

Boil the penne and cauliflower for 8 mins in salted water until the pasta is almost cooked and the cauliflower is tender. Add the leeks after 4 mins. Keep 2 tbsp water from the pan, then drain. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a pan, add the whole garlic clove, spinach, remaining nutmeg, salt and lots of black pepper. Stir for 2 mins, then remove the garlic clove.

Set aside 300ml cheese sauce and mix the rest into the cauliflower and pasta. Divide half the tomato sauce between 6 dishes and top with some spinach. Fill with cauliflower mix, top with more spinach, then the rest of the tomato sauce. Top with the cheese sauce, cheeses and pine nuts. Heat oven to 200C/ 180C fan/gas 6. Cook on a baking sheet for 18-20 mins until golden and bubbling.


  1. The dish sounds lovely and thanks so much for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

    As for cauliflower, I never really liked it much until I went on the South Beach Diet where rice and potatoes are a definite no-no, especially in Phase One.

    That's when I discovered that roasted cauliflower can be awesome. You can check out some of my cauliflower recipes - just to give cauliflower another chance.

  2. I think it's pretty hard not to love a vegetable when it's mixed with pasta and cheese. Looks delicious!

  3. looks just great... the combination of vegetables with the pasta is good

  4. Unlike you, I adore cauliflower. And this sounds like a fabulous way to serve it! It looks beautiful as well.


  5. I adapted this recipe and it was delicious.

    I fried off some onion, yellow pepper, mushroom and sweetcorn and added the frozen spinach lumps to this mixture as it cooked. I then mixed this into the cheese sauce and cauliflower cheese mixture. I just put the tomato on the bottom, cauli mixture on top and topped with some extra cheese sauce and cheddar cheese.