Baked Penne with Cauliflower and Cheese

The main dish for this South Arm Older Adults Community Kitchen is Baked Penne with Cauliflower and Cheese.


The cream sauce for this baked penne recipe is made with cauliflower. It’s a great way to incorporate┬ávegetables in dishes for picky eaters.


  • 4 cups 1.5 inch cauliflower florets (about 1 pound from 1/2 head)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Fine sea salt or table salt
  • 12 oz. dried penne
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 oz. coarsely grated sharp white Cheddar (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1.5 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1.5 cups using a grater)


Source: from Fine Cooking Online


IMG_2109Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375F.

Put cauliflower, onions, and garlic in a steamer basket set over 1 inch of boiling water in a 6 to 8 quart pot. Cover and steam until the cauliflower is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Since there is no steamer in the kitchen, we just steam the cauliflower with some water in a large pan.


IMG_2107Fill a pot three quarters full of salted water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Add dried penne and cook for 3 minutes less than the package timing.

Drain and return the pasta to the pot.

IMG_2115Transfer the cauliflower, onion, and garlic to a blender.

Add 1 cup of the milk, the dry mustard, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper.

Puree until smooth.

IMG_2120Transfer puree to a 3-quart saucepan and stir in the remaining 1 cup of milk and thyme.

Heat over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling, about 3 minutes.

IMG_2122In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar and Parmigiano.

Add all but 1/2 cup of the cheese mix to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted.

IMG_2123Add the sauce to the pasta and stir to combine.

Transfer the pasta with the sauce to an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake until heated through and the cheese is beginning to brown, 20 to 30 minutes.

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