Cauliflower & Rigatoni Gratin

Am I the only person who can’t get enough cauliflower?  It’s been abundant at local markets so it keeps finding its way into my kitchen.  Roasted, mashed, sauteed or raw, this super-veggie is making dinner extra delightful.

 

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Kiddos, I assure you, sweet roasted cauliflower in a rich creamy gruyere sauce with fresh thyme and earthy sage mixed with fresh pasta and placed under the broiler until browned and bubbly …this dish will make you an absolute star.  This is, by far, one of my favorite flavor combos and I have yet to serve it to somebody, anybody, who doesn’t end up obsessively loving it as well.  The addition of the herbs really brings it to life and turning the cauliflower into its own sauce is just plain genius.

Did you know a whole head has under 30 calories?  I mean, not in this recipe …you can’t cover something with cream and gruyere and hope for 30 calories, but you can rest assured that the veggie is.  (Although, raw milk gruyere can have a surprising number of health benefits… come see me at the shop to find out more about raw milk – it can boost metabolism, lower cholesterol and fight off allergies.)

 

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Cauliflower is also lacking in fat and cholesterol but prolific in antioxidants and vitamins, plus a couple of grams of fiber thrown in for good measure.   Not to mention it has about 80% of your daily recommended value of Vitamin C.  Who knew?  And it has a ton of other natural healthy elements that have proven benefits against prostate, breast, cervical, colon and ovarian cancers.  Ugh, cancer’s a real downer.  Let’s skip ahead to something more uplifting, like this recipe.

Charlotte used fresh rigatoni from our local market but you can use any short pasta.  I recommend Sfoglini, which holds sauce better than any other pasta I’ve used.

 

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Cauliflower & Rigatoni Gratin
Recipe and photos by Charlotte Abrams
Serves 4

 

10 ounces fresh rigatoni
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped, about 4 cups
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, plus leaves for topping
Fresh sage leaves for topping
1/2 cup grated Gruyere
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. Combine cream, milk, garlic, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer. Add cauliflower, cover, and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Remove half the cauliflower and reserve. Continue cooking remaining cauliflower, covered, until soft, about 8 additional minutes. Remove garlic from cream. Working in batches, transfer cream-cauliflower mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.

 

Heat broiler. In a large bowl, toss pasta with cream mixture, reserved cauliflower, pasta, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta among four gratin dishes. Top each with a quarter of the cheese, thyme leaves, and sage. Broil until cheese is browned and bubbling, about 5 minutes.