Cauliflower cheese & spinach pasta bakes

Cauliflower cheese & spinach pasta bakes

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(37 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…

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



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 100g extra mature cheddar, grated



    Once cheddar was 'Cheddar', a large, hard-pressed barrel of cheese made by a particular…

  • 25-50g blue cheese
  • ½ tsp finely grated nutmeg



    One of the most useful of spices for both sweet and savoury

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


  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, questions and tips

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14th Sep, 2016
A lot of effort for something quite plain.
2nd Mar, 2015
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!!!
12th Nov, 2014
My family and I love this recipe. Never any waste!
29th Sep, 2014
Yummy!! Everyone loved it and with two children who normally say "yuck" to everything new, this was a break-through :-)
8th Aug, 2014
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!!!!)
11th Feb, 2014
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 :-)
24th Jan, 2014
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.
19th Dec, 2013
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.
14th Nov, 2013
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.
23rd Oct, 2013
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!


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