- EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
- 4 thick slices of smoky bacon, chopped into 1/4 inch dice
- 1 large head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets
- Salt and pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk
- Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/4 teaspoon
- 1 pound penne rigate or cavatappi, corkscrew shaped hollow pasta
- 3 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 3 rounded tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
While the water comes up to a boil, heat a drizzle of oil in small skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and crisp, 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and reserve.
Salt the boiling water and add cauliflower florets. Cook 4-5 minutes then remove with a spider or strainer and run under cold running water to stop cooking process. Reserve cooked cauliflower in colander.
Place a medium-size pot over medium heat. Melt butter and whisk in flour. Cook 1 minute then whisk in milk and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook for a couple of minutes until thickened.
Drop pasta in the same boiling water you cooked cauliflower in and cook just shy of al dente.
While the pasta cooks, remove sauce from heat and add 2/3 of grated cheese, the horseradish, reserved bacon and chives. Stir to combine.
Drain pasta over cauliflower to reheat the florets with hot boiling water. Place pasta and florets in hot pot and add the cheese sauce. Stir to combine.
Transfer to a baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Place under broiler to brown the top. Serve with a spinach salad alongside.