Cauliflower cheese & spinach pasta bakes

Cauliflower cheese & spinach pasta bakes

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(33 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 45 mins


Serves 6
Somewhere between macaroni and cauliflower cheese, these pasta bakes are perfect for a cold day

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Vegetarian


  • kcal591
  • fat29g
  • saturates13g
  • carbs60g
  • sugars18g
  • fibre8g
  • protein28g
  • salt1.91g
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  • 850ml milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g butter, plus 1 tbsp



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 100g extra mature cheddar, grated
  • 25-50g blue cheese
  • ½ tsp finely grated nutmeg
  • 250g penne
  • 1kg cauliflower (2 medium ones), cut into florets



    A brassica, like cabbage and broccoli, cauliflower is a mass of tiny, tightly packed flower…

  • 750g frozen spinach (whole leaf), defrosted and squeezed dry



    Used in almost every cuisine across the world, spinach is an enormously popular green vegetable…

  • 25g toasted pine nuts

For the tomato sauce

  • 4 garlic clove, 3 sliced, 1 left whole
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 700g jar tomato passata

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  1. For the tomato sauce, cook the sliced garlic in the oil for 1 min, then add the passata. Season, half-cover the pan and simmer for 20 mins until rich.

  2. Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Put the milk, flour and 50g butter into a pan. Heat, whisking non-stop, until smooth, then bubble for 3 mins, stirring to make sure any flouriness is lost. Cool for 5 mins, then stir in the mustard, most of the cheddar, half the blue cheese and half the nutmeg.

  3. Boil the penne and cauliflower for 8 mins in salted water until the pasta is almost cooked and the cauli is tender. Keep 2 tbsp water from the pan, then drain. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a pan, add the whole garlic clove, spinach, remaining nutmeg, salt and lots of black pepper. Stir for 2 mins, then remove the garlic clove.

  4. Set aside 300ml cheese sauce and mix the rest into the cauli and pasta. Divide half the tomato sauce between 6 dishes and top with some spinach. Fill with cauli mix, top with more spinach, then the rest of the tomato sauce. Top with the cheese sauce, cheeses and pine nuts. Cover with cling film, cool and chill for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. To cook, defrost if frozen. Heat oven to 200C/ 180C fan/gas 6. Cook on a baking sheet for 18-20 mins until golden and bubbling. Good with green salad or garlic bread.

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Comments (30)

Strawberrysquash0's picture

I cooked this meal last night and it went down really well. It was very filling! I have to agree with a previous post about there being too many pans, there's also a lot of preparation involved for a fairly simple combination. I steamed the cauliflower and cooked pasta separately, I also used fresh spinach. I halved the ingredients and fed myself and my other half very well. I've also frozen two big portions. It was a tasty meal but far too much hassle to do on a regular basis. Great to try once though. Enjoy!!!

perky2512's picture

My family and I love this recipe. Never any waste!

catherinebusymum's picture

Yummy!! Everyone loved it and with two children who normally say "yuck" to everything new, this was a break-through :-)

rosehadley's picture

Will not be making this again. Highly disappointing. Too many pans needed, and it was messy and fiddly. It tasted ok, but won't go through the hassle again. (far too much as well!!!!)

Strawberrysquash0's picture

This was a really tasty and filling meal. I used one dish rather than dividing the meal. I also cooked the pasta and cauliflower separately (we like steamed veg) and used fresh spinach. Even though I cut the ingredients down, as only cooking for two, there was still loads left over which I have frozen. Great recipe :-)

perky2512's picture

I have made this twice now and we all love it. The children ate the spinach as well. The only thing I did differently was I made it in one big dish. There is never anything left in the dish or on the plates.

perky2512's picture

Made this as one big dish and it was so yummy. The kids loved it and ate it all up. Was even better than I expected.

nicolajp's picture

This was really yummy and definitely indulgent comfort food. Involved rather a lot of components though and I ended up using nearly every pan in my cupboard somehow, so not really an every night of week kind of thing, but definitely worth it. I too cheated and used passata with garlic already in it, and I think in future, I would just mix everything up and put it in the dishes, rather than layering. It doesn't say what to do with the 2 tbsp of reserved water, but I used it to wilt the spinach.

olisho's picture

It looked absolutely yummy. Took it out of the oven, put it on the counter top next to the salad I'd just made, positioned my wine glass next to the bake to take a pic of it all, and heavy wooden board that was standing at the back of the counter top came down on the lot!!! We ate it anyway (having checked for glass) but can't remember what it tasted like as I was too upset. Just as well I've got one in the freezer..will let you know!

susaneardley's picture

This was lovely & went down a storm with the whole family! I cheated a but, using passatta with garlic & herbs already in. I also didn't have time for the layering & separating so just mixed it all together in one big baking dish & bunged it in the oven.

Kitchen helper's picture

I've made this recipe for dinner this evening. It was delicious, loved the vegetables and garlic and the cheese sauce was perfect. The only downsides to this recipe are that there are a lot of steps therefore it required more time than I initially first thought. Also, this dish requires many saucepans, which although I have, some others may find it difficult if they only have a 3 piece set.

vickybrunton6869's picture

I made this the other night in a large dish and it was beautiful!!!! I used a little extra blue cheese and I did cheat and use a loyd grossman sauce just to save time. Highly recommend :)

cat1974's picture

Would like to try. Recipe says Keep 2 tbsp water from the pan, then drain. But it doesnt say what to do with the water that you´ve kept?

harrymondeo's picture

Top recipe....have used it regularly since appeared in the magazine, tend to use frozen spinach as it is one of our regular winter seasonal dishes. My fella always likes meat in ANYTHING so I add some chopped bacon to give him his fix. Easily freezable, so make batches and save time later, well worth the effort that way. EXCELLENT

harrymondeo's picture

Top recipe....have used it regularly since appeared in the magazine, tend to use frozen spinach as it is one of our regular winter seasonal dishes. My fella always likes meat in ANYTHING so I add some chopped bacon to give him his fix. Easily freezable, so make batches and save time later, well worth the effort that way. EXCELLENT

mummymandymoo's picture

No doubt about it, this is yummy. However, it is a real faff to make and uses almost every pan in the kitchen! Will make again but use a shop bought tomato sauce. Would also use fresh spinach and just wilt it down with the butter and garlic rather than defrost frozen spinach, squeeze it out etc etc.

susieone's picture

I halved the recipe, but otherwise followed it without alteration. I served it with garlic bread. It made a pleasant change for an after work supper and enabled me to use up a few odd things left in the fridge, but I won't repeat it. There was nothing wrong with the recipe; it just wasn't very inspiring.

tdawas's picture

Only way we can get cauliflower and spinach into our children's stomachs!

dimple sonejimakani's picture

Wonderful recipe...lovely autumnal meal!

levislevis's picture

filling, however might be better with broccoli


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