Tricolore penne and cauliflower cheese with hazelnuts

Tricolore penne with cauliflower, cheese and hazelnuts

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This wonderful family dish for cauliflower cheese with hazelnuts and penne pasta is a cross between the eternally popular cauliflower cheese and macaroni cheese, but with an elegant and sophisticated twist, that will still appeal the children and adults alike. Using mezze penne tricolore adds a bit of fun as well as colour to the recipe, and the quill-shaped pasta is the perfect shape and size for the unctuous coating of cheese sauce.

1
To begin, cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 8–10 minutes, adding the cauliflower florets for the last 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and cauliflower and set to one side in a large bowl
2
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6 and butter a large ovenproof dish
3
To make the cheese sauce, make a roux by melting the butter in a pan then stirring in the flour. Stir over a low heat for a few minutes, then gradually whisk in the warmed milk
4
Keep whisking until you have a silky, thick sauce. Stir in three quarters of the cheese and mustard, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper
5
Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and cauliflower and mix well. Spoon it into the prepared ovenproof dish and scatter the remaining cheese over the top
6
Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until it is golden brown and bubbling, adding the chopped hazelnuts over the top for the last 3–4 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately with seasonal green salad and crusty bread
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