30 Minute Cauliflower Casserole
Cauliflower is the vegetable in vogue these days. I buy one every time I go to the grocery store with the intention of making something trendy--like a whole head of roasted cauliflower or cauliflower curry. Sometimes I get around to these elegant dishes. And sometimes I end up with a head of cauliflower in the crisper drawer that I need to use.
My little kids aren't big on curry or roasted cauliflower, but they will eat nearly anything mixed with pasta and covered with cheese. And so I discovered that you can turn a cauliflower into a dinner casserole pretty easily--all you need is pasta, olive oil, garlic and two kinds of cheese. (And the cauliflower, of course.) It takes about a half an hour all in all. And it's so good, even small children will (usually) eat it.
- Half a pound of rigatoni (or penne, or wagon wheels, or other short pasta.)
- 1 head cauliflower
- 4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup shredded parmesan or romano cheese
- 6 ounces grated melting cheese such as fontina, provolone, jack, or mozzarella
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Cook the pasta al dente (a few minutes less than the time indicated on the package) and drain. Rinse the cauliflower and break or cut it into florets. Steam for 5 to 7 minutes until wilted, but crisp. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the garlic, stirring to brown slightly. Add the cauliflower and cook in the oil for a few minutes, stirring to coat with the oil. Add the pasta and the parmesan or romano. Season with red pepper flakes if desired and salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Put the mixture in a baking dish, then top with the melting cheese. Bake for five minutes or until the cheese melts. Serve with sliced tomatoes or a salad and a cellar temperature red wine.