Roasted Cauliflower, Bacon and Fontina Baked Pasta

Serves 8.

Note: A sophisticated version of mac and cheese, this baked pasta gets its cheesiness from the iconic Italian cheese fontina, which gives it a buttery, nutty flavor that pairs well with the sweetness of the roasted cauliflower. From Meredith Deeds.

• 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 6 cups)

• 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided

• 1 tsp. salt, divided

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 4 slices bacon, chopped

• 1 medium leek, white and light green part only, washed and thinly sliced

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 3 tbsp. flour

• 3 1/2 c. whole milk

• 1/2 c. heavy cream

• 1/4 tsp. cayenne

• Pinch grated nutmeg

• 2 c. shredded fontina cheese (8 oz.)

• 12 oz. dried medium pasta shells, penne or other medium pasta shape

• 1 1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs

• 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

Place cauliflower in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper; toss gently to coat. Transfer cauliflower to a large baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until just tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

For cheese sauce, in a large saucepan heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add bacon; cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes or until browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a small bowl. Set aside.

Add leeks to the saucepan with the drippings and cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes, until softened over medium heat. Add garlic; and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, cream, cayenne, nutmeg and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook until slightly thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Gradually add fontina cheese, stirring just until melted.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan cook pasta according to package directions for al dente; drain and return pasta to saucepan.

Add cauliflower, cooked bacon and cheese sauce to pasta; stir gently to combine.

Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; toss to coat. Sprinkle crumb mixture over macaroni mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly around the edges.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 610 Fat 33 g Sodium 960 mg

Carbohydrates 54 g Saturated fat 15 g Total sugars 9 g

Protein 24 g Cholesterol 70 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Exchanges per serving: ½ milk, 1 vegetable, 3 starch, 1 high-fat protein, 4½ fat.