Growing up I was never a huge fan of vegetables, but now as an adult that’s changed quite a bit. And as a dad, I’m trying to make sure my boys don’t fall into the same trap and avoid veggies until they are adults.
Trust me, this takes some work. Two out of 3 of my boys are not vegetables lovers and could survive the rest of their childhood without ever eating one. As a result, I’m always trying to find creative ways to showcase different vegetables. This roasted cauliflower ziti is one of them.
Naturally as the universe would have it, my vegetable-adverse toddler loved this and my vegetable-loving son who has spinach salads for his fifth grade lunch ate it, albeit picking his way around all the florets. I just don’t get what’s not to like about cauliflower that becomes caramelized.
In any case, I may not have totally convinced him of it yet, but he at least he ate some of the casserole. Which is more than I can say for my teenager, who is an even pickier eater than I ever was. But slow and steady, right? If I keep offering and exposing the boys to things outside of their repertoire then eventually it’ll catch on, right?At least that’s the hope.
- 2 large cauliflower heads, cut into florets
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ French bread loaf
- ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided use
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
- 1lb. tube pasta
- 4 tablespoons of flour
- 3½ cups milk, heated
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 8 oz. fontina cheese, shredded
- To make the roasted cauliflower: Heat oven to 425°F. Toss florets on a large baking sheet with ¼ cup of olive oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until florets are caramelized and tender about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. This step can be completed two days ahead.
- To make the bread crumbs: Pulse French bread in a food processor to a rough crumb. Portion out 4 tablespoons of butter and melt it. In a large bowl, toss bread crumbs with melted butter and ¼ cup of parmesan cheese. Set aside.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta according to package; and set aside.
- In a large oven-proof, heavy-bottom saucepan, over low heat, melt remaining 8 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and whisk until a smooth paste forms, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk, stirring continuously until the sauce is thick enough coat the back of a spoon, about 17 minutes. Stir in the salt, garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika. Add the fontina and stir until melted, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Add cooked pasta and roasted cauliflower stir to combine.
- Remove pan from stovetop. Sprinkle bread crumbs mixture on top. Transfer pan to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is slightly golden.