Golden Cauliflower with Penne, Prosciutto and Gruyere Mac 'n Cheese

I saw this lovely veg, sometimes referred to as a cheddar cauliflower, in a produce bin and, as occasionally happens to me in markets, it emitted a come and get me siren call.  I visualized colorful florets mixing and mingling with pasta in an upscale Mac'n cheese, with prosciutto and grated Gruyere cheese.   Luckily, the cheese aisle was right near, and I had the prosciutto.  Doesn't that  make you happy when an idea comes in time.  Not at home with ingredients missing.

According to an article in the Daily Mail, about the bright colored cauliflowers, "Some scientists have even claimed that they are healthier for you.  Andrew Coker, a spokesman for the plant company Syngenta - which is developing the plants in Europe - stressed that the colourful cauliflowers were not the result of genetic engineering, but came after decades of traditional selective breeding....
Tests of the orange cauliflowers in America found that they contained 25 times the concentrations of beta carotene in normal cauliflowers."

All I know for sure is that Bob said it tasted better than ordinary cauliflower.  He may have a beta carotene deficiency.  His body needed it and responded positively.  I responded to the dish as a whole, the inter-mingling of all those yummy flavors.  Scrumptious.

Golden Cauliflower with Penne, Prosciutto and Gruyere
4 servings

2 1/2 cups gold cauliflower florets (about 1/2 the cauliflower)
1/2  12 oz. box  macaroni
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter
4 oz. (about 1 1/2 cups) Gruyere cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated 
salt and white pepper to taste
grating of nutmeg
 2 oz. prosciutto, diced
breadcrumbs, toasted lightly with some olive oil

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and meanwhile separate the cauliflower into florets.  I used a heaping 2 cup measure to an approx. 1/2 (12 oz.) box of penne pasta.  Cook the noodles til barely done, then add the florets to blanch maybe 30 seconds.  Drain and set aside.

While the water is coming to a boil for the pasta and the pasta is cooking, whip up your bechamel sauce.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet, stir in the flour and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or so.  Then add a little at a time, whisking continually, the milk.  Simmer slowly when smooth, stirring to keep it from sticking, and add in the cheeses, salt, nutmeg and pepper to taste.

Now butter your  casserole dish, add in 1/3 of the penne cauliflower mixture, a sprinkling of diced prosciutto, some sauce and then two more layers of the same, finishing with sauce and breadcrumbs.  Bake about 30 minutes, til the sauce is bubbly.

The only thing I would add is some crispy breadcrumbs on top.  Sometimes I'm just too ready to pop things in the oven, without remembering those final touches.  Also, more of the Prosciutto wouldn't hurt.  I adjusted the recipe above for those two items.  We loved this delicious version of Mac 'n Cheese, and will be doing repeats.

Just a bit of mixed green salad on the side and you're good to go.


Swathi Iyer said...

I haven't seen this colored cauliflower here, sure looks out for it. It looks beautiful. Nice Pasta Dish Claudia.

Claudia said...

Thanks Swathi, perhaps next I'll try the purple variety.