This cauliflower ziti (pasta bake) has got it all. It’s got the creaminess of the cheese sauce, the comfort of pasta, the richness of a Bolognese and a crunchy breadcrumb topping – its heaven. The best thing is you can make a large dish of it and have leftovers (trust me you’ll want them) or put in the freezer for another time.
Ok big claim coming here… I think this might be the best thing I’ve ever cooked!
Ingredients for Cauliflower Ziti
- 2 cauliflower heads cut into small pieces
- 2 tbsp pesto
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 stick celery diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 stock cube
- 200ml water
- 20g sugar
- 30g tomato puree
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tins tomatoes
- 6 fresh basil leaves torn into small pieces
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 50g butter – use a plant based spread for vegan
- 50g plain flour
- 1-pint milk – I used oat milk
- 2 tsp mustard
- 150g cheese – use 6 tbsp nutritional yeast to make vegan
- 300g wholemeal pasta
- 1 medium courgette
- 200g breadcrumbs
Oven – 180 or 160 fan. Prep time > 20min’s Cook time> 1hr
Start by mixing the oil and pesto together and spooning it on to the cauliflower. Place it in the oven to bake for around 30 min’s or until browned.
In a large skillet pan add the oil, onion, carrot and celery and soften on a medium heat for 5 min’s. Add the garlic, season and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the stock cube, oregano, water, sugar and tomato puree and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
In another skillet add the butter and let it melt. Add in the flour and cook, constantly stirring until browned. Add a small amount of the milk to form a paste and then slowly add the rest. To this add the cheese, mustard and season with a good dose of black pepper.
Remove the cauliflower from the oven and leave to cool.
Stir the ragu and add the tinned tomatoes to the pan. Season and add the basil and simmer for a further 20 minutes. Don’t rush this bit, the longer the flavours cook together the better it tastes.
Add the pasta to a pan of boiling salted water and cook as per the packet instructions.
Remove the ragu pan from the heat and transfer to a blender. Pulse until smooth.
In a large baking dish mix the cauliflower, cooked pasta and blended ragu sauce. Take an ordinary peeler and use it to create long ribbons of courgette. Add a layer of these ribbons to the top of the pasta/cauli mix and cover with the cheese sauce. Add the breadcrumbs, some more black pepper and any extra cheese if you wish.
Place in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
Serve with greens if you like and enjoy.