This is an ultra-creamy and cheesy pasta bake, topped with crispy bacon. Need we say more?
Cauliflower and Spinach Macaroni and Cheese Bake
- 10.5 oz. macaroni
- 1/2 cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 rindless bacon rashers, finely chopped
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 8.8 oz. frozen spinach, thawed, excess moisture squeezed
- 1 cup grated tasty cheese
- 1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
- Steamed beans, to serve
- 2.1 oz. butter, chopped
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 2 cups milk
- 10.1 oz tub thickened cream
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a three-liter baking dish.
- In a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the macaroni following packet instructions. Add the cauliflower for final three minutes. Drain.
- Meanwhile, in a large deep-frying pan, heat half of the oil on high. Sauté bacon for two to three minutes, until golden. Add breadcrumbs and cook for two to three minutes, stirring until golden and toasted. Remove from pan.
- In same frying pan, heat the remaining oil on medium. Sauté onion and garlic for four to five minutes until softened. Add spinach and cook for one minute.
- To make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt butter on high. Add flour and cook, stirring, for one minute. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk in milk and cream. Return to heat and cook, stirring until mixture boils and thickens. Simmer for three minutes. Stir in Parmesan and nutmeg. Season.
- Toss drained macaroni, spinach, and sauce mixture in dish. Sprinkle with tasty cheese, and then the breadcrumb mixture and the thyme.
- Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes, until golden and bubbling. Serve with steamed green beans.
Tip: If using fresh baby spinach leaves, blanch in boiling water for one to two minutes, and then drain and squeeze out any excess liquid before adding to onion.
This post was written by Women’s Weekly Food editors. For more, check out our sister site, Women’s Weekly Food.