The Washington Post

Cauliflower-Pasta Gratin

Cauliflower-Pasta Gratin 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Feb 5, 2014

Using a bechamel in place of cream is a wonderful way to achieve a creamy, luscious result that isn't overly rich. If you'd like something cheesier, you can stir an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated cheese -- more Parmigiano-Reggiano or something different, such as Gruyère or fontina -- into the finished bechamel.

Make Ahead: The gratin can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat in a 375-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until warmed through.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings

  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed or crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for the pasta cooking water
  • 1-pound head cauliflower
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
  • Pinch ground mace (may substitute nutmeg)
  • 12 ounces dried whole-wheat fusilli (may substitute other small-shaped pasta or use farro pasta
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (may substitute pecorino Romano cheese)

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Have a 9-by-13-inch baking dish at hand.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until bubbles begin to appear. Add the rosemary sprig and the garlic; remove from the heat to steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup, discarding the solids.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Separate/cut the cauliflower florets and core into bite-size pieces, then add to the boiling water; cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cauliflower is just tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to the baking dish, spreading them in a single layer. Reserve the cooking water in the pot; you’ll use it to cook the pasta.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for several minutes to form a smooth roux. Gradually add the steeped milk, whisking until completely incorporated. Increase the heat to medium; once the mixture is barely bubbling, whisk for about 20 minutes to form a béchamel sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with the teaspoon of salt, the black pepper and mace. Turn off the heat.

About 10 minutes into the cooking of the sauce, return the large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook just until al dente. Drain, then add to the baking dish with the cauliflower.

Whisk the béchamel to an even smoothness, if needed; pour evenly over the cauliflower and pasta, then fold gently to incorporate. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and with black pepper, if desired. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the gratin is bubbling, the cheese is melted and the exposed bits of pasta are browned.

Wait for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source

From food writer Emily C. Horton.

Tested by Nilar Andrea Chit Tun.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 420

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 16g 25%

Saturated Fat: 9g 45%

Cholesterol: 40mg 13%

Sodium: 540mg 22%

Total Carbohydrates: 54g 18%

Dietary Fiber: 7g 28%

Sugar: 10g

Protein: 17g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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