This cauliflower casserole from Katharine Heintschel of Oregon “is a kid-tested winner!” she writes. “Big kids like it too.” And she would know, because she is a high school teacher (Woo hoo! Go Generals!). The recipe came from a cookbook she bought years ago at a used bookstore, and it has the advantage of hiding the healthy cauliflower in the delicious cheese sauce.
1 head white cauliflower, cut into florets
1 pound pasta, such as shells
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
2 heaping tablespoons flour
3 cups milk, heated until hot
2 cups cheese, any kind, preferably a combination
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups diced ham or chicken
Panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350°. In a very large pot of boiling water over high heat, cook cauliflower and pasta together until done. Drain and set aside. Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add flour, stirring to make a roux. Add the warmed milk gradually, and bring to a simmer. Add cheeses and cook until melted. Mix cheese sauce in a bowl with the pasta and cauliflower. Add frozen peas and diced meat. Pour in a greased 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs, chives, and a little olive oil and bake for 45 minutes.
— Katharine Heintschel