You can add pureed sweet potato or squash to the cauliflower blend for a slightly sweeter combo. Just add a little extra pasta water or veggie or chicken broth to loosen the mixture if it seems too thick.
- 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets and stem pieces (about 4 cups)
- 1 cup whole milk
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper, freshly cracked
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
In a medium saucepan, combine cauliflower, milk, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Bring the milk to the simmer over medium heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and gently cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Carefully transfer the cauliflower and milk to a blender (working in batches if needed—it will be very hot and you don’t want to overfill the blender). Add the butter and pulse a few times to release the steam, then puree until smooth.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the macaroni and cook 3 minutes less than the package instructs. Reserving ½ cup cooking water, drain the pasta.
While the pasta cooks, in a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until shallots are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower puree and veggie broth. Stir to combine.
Stir ricotta, ½ cup cheese, and nutmeg into sauce, then add macaroni and stir to combine. If pasta seems dry, add some of the pasta water or more vegetable broth.
Preheat the broiler. In a small bowl, mix together panko, parsley, basil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and ¼ cup cheese. Rub between your fingers to combine.
Pour pasta mixture into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle seasoned panko over the top and broil 1 or 2 minutes, until topping is a deep golden-brown.
Excerpt from "The Happy Cook" by Daphne Oz. Copyright © 2016 by Daphne Oz. Used with permission by William Morrow Cookbooks. All rights reserved.