Buffalo Cauliflower Pasta Bake
I ran across this recipe the other day and was intrigued. I cut it down to fit a 9×9 dish and cut down the pasta. I did some other tweaks as well and it turned out SO GOOD. If you want it completely low carb, I think you could leave out the pasta and panko, and make about half of the sauce. This dish dirties a lot of pans, but is TOTALLY worth it. :)
Servings 8 servings
- 4 qt pot
- 1-2 qt saucepan
- 9x9 baking dish
- 1 med cauliflower, cut into 1" florets white or orange will work
- 1/2 lb elbow macaroni OR cavatappi, penne, farfalle - any smallish pasta will work
- 2 Tbl kosher salt
- 6 Tbl butter, cut up
- 1 small white onion, small dice about 1/2-2/3 cup
- 2 stalks celery, small dice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup Franks Hot Sauce It is the way. ONLY Franks!
- 2 tsp L&P Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbl Flour A/P or SR, whatever
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp DRY Franks seasoning Look for it in the spice section. Optional, but adds a depth of flavor!
- 1 1/2 cups half n half Whole milk is OK; whole buttermilk is GREAT!
- 2 cups shredded cheddar jack cheese or all cheddar if you wish
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3/4 cup panko
- 1 Tbl EVOO for panko
- 1/2 cup Blue cheese crumbles to taste
- Get all your veg prepped and ready to go. Mise en place is really important for a multi-step recipe such as this.
- Spray a 9×9 baking dish with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 Tbl salt. Cook cauliflower until tender, about 6-8 minutes. I like mine completely cooked at the end, so I go 8 minutes. If you like it a little al dente, just do 5-6 minutes.
- Remove cauliflower with a slotted spoon or spider to a colander, but keep water for the pasta. Add the pasta and cook until its al dente. Remember, the casserole will be cooked more in the oven.
- Melt 3 tbl butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook celery and onion until soft then add in the cauliflower and garlic. Add about half (1/4 cup) Franks and half (1 tsp) L&P, and cook for a couple of minutes more. Set aside.
- Melt 3 tbl butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, mustard and dry Franks, if using. Whisk in half & half and remaining hot sauce + L&P and stir for a minute. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Off heat, add sour cream. Check for heat level and add more Franks if you wish.
- To assemble the casserole, put a layer of macaroni in the bottom of the baking dish and cover with about 1/3 of the sauce. Mix the remaining macaroni in with the cauliflower and veg, then layer that in. Pour over the remaining sauce.
- Mix panko with about a tbl of EVOO, then mix in the blue cheese. Layer that over the top of the casserole.
- Bake casserole in a 350°F oven for about half an hour, or until it is bubbly and the panko is browned. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.