- 1 pound short cut pasta, such as macaroni, ziti or penne rigate, regular or whole wheat
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons flour
- About 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 3-4 sprigs fresh sage leaves, very thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 cup Gruyère cheese, divided
- 1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
- 1 small bundle watercress, washed and chopped
Bring the water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and undercook the pasta by 2 minutes, about 5-6 minutes.
While the water comes to a boil, in a covered Dutch oven, heat the EVOO over medium to medium-high heat. Cut the core away from the cauliflower and set the head into the pot. Add 1 cup stock, cover and steam for 12-15 minutes, until tender. Remove and separate the cauliflower into florets. Discard the water from the pot.
Over medium heat in the same pot, melt the butter, then add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, until tender. Add in the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Whisk in the whole milk and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and sage. When thickened, stir in the Dijon mustard and two-thirds of the combined cheeses.
Drain the pasta and add it to the cauliflower. Stir in the cheese sauce, transfer to baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Cool completely and cover for a make-ahead meal.
To bake, pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
Bake until brown on a baking sheet to catch the bubble-over. The casserole will take 40-45 minutes to heat through.
To serve, garnish bowls of the Cauliflower Mac 'n Cheese with chopped spicy watercress.