Pasta with Cheesy Cauliflower Sauce and Crispy Crumb Topping

I love
Jamie Oliver. When I watch him throw together dishes with ease and his look of bliss as he tastes each one at the end of a segment, I am hooked. My only gripe is he seems to go through phases where he puts anchovies in everything and I am just not a fan. 

The other day he was offering a slightly healthier versions of a pasta dish - low fat milk, smaller amounts of cheese, lots of veggies.  I love pasta and am always looking for ways to make it that have less guilt. I can work the calories into my day by cutting other places and having smaller serving sizes, but I am on doctor's orders to reduce the amount of fat in my diet and that is more challenging.

This recipe is as easy as they come and hits a lot of the right notes. I have to admit, though, it doesn't have the same amazing flavor as the sauces with full cream and tons of cheese. I also struggled to get it as creamy as Jamie Oliver showed on TV. I think I need to reduce the amount of pasta or increase the amount of liquid ( milk - hot pasta water - or a combo or both).

I am also going to use my pasta hack next time where I replace half the pasta with spiralized zucchini noodles - zoodles.  I add them raw to the strainer and then pour the pasta and cooking water over them to drain. It softens them but leaves a little crunch. And the green flecks of zucchini skin will add color to the dish. 

I'll add an update after I try this recipe again, so be sure and check back. And if you try it, let me know what you think. 

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Cauliflower Cheese Pasta

Ingredients -

100 g                     Stale sourdough bread - about 2 slices
2 cloves                 Garlic
400 g                     Cauliflower (about 1/2 head), save any good green leaves
1/2 T                     Olive oil
1                            Onion (I always use sweet onion)
400 ml                   Semi-skimmed milk (I used 2%)
300 g                     Dried spaghetti (Note might use part noodles & part zoodles next time)
70 g                       White cheddar cheese

Instructions - 

Tear the bread into pieces and put in a food processor. Peel and add the garlic, then tear in any nice leaves from the bottom of your cauliflower off, remove the spine, and add leaves as well. Add the olive oil, and then blitz into fairly fine crumbs. Tip the crumbs into a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp, stirring occasionally. Might work baking as well, but keep an eye or they will over brown - something I did. Lost track of time.  

When done put the crispy crumbs into a bowl, returning the pan to the heat. Peel the onion, then roughly chop with the cauliflower including the stalk. Pour in the milk into the chopped vegetables, bring just to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Just before the pasta is ready, carefully pour the cauliflower mixture into the processor (there’s no need to wash it), grate in the cheese, blitz until super smooth, then season to perfection, and return to the pan. Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of starchy cooking water.

Note - you can cook half the pasta and replace the other half with spiralized zucchini zoodles. Put the raw noodles in the drainer, set the 1 cup of pasta water aside, then drain the noodles over the zoodles and toss well. This will bring down calories and add a touch of crunch and color to the dish.

Toss the pasta through the sauce, adding reserved hot pasta cooking water as needed to thin to the right consistency.  Place individual servings on plates and sprinkle with crispy crumbs.