One of my boys still isn’t too keen on cauliflower. I put it on the table at least once a week, and he stares it down with the intensity of a superhero facing his nemesis, convinced he can win the battle against the vegetable he dislikes the most.
We’ve tried serving it roasted, and doused in a classic cheese sauce, but nothing appeals to him and his aversion to cauliflower. Until recently, when I made peace with the fact that he just might like it a little more if he doesn’t actually know it’s on his dinner plate. My mother’s intuition was right in this case, because the creamy pasta you see pictured above is now a popular menu item in our house and as far as anyone is concerned, it’s a simplified, striped-down version of the boys’ beloved mac and cheese.
While masquerading vegetables into something different is often frowned up, I’m not above sneaking something of substance into a dish when it’s called for. Serving a creamy cauliflower sauce alongside an already established favourite, in this case the pasta, has proven that it’s not so much the taste of cauliflower he doesn’t like, but more likely just the idea of it.
This version is great for a quick weeknight dinner and/or the school lunchbox, but the kids like it best when I add some cooked and crumbled bacon, sausage, and even leftover chicken to the pot.
Pasta Shells with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce
- 4 cups cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese + extra for serving
- 3 Tablespoons cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- zest of 1 lemon
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 450 g small pasta (like shells or orecchiette)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Fresh ground pepper