Cauliflower and cheese sauce is a classic pairing
for good reason, and it only gets better when pasta is added to the
mix. We've opted for a crumble of piquant Gorgonzola throughout,
2 tbspolive oil300 gm (about ½ head)cauliflower, cut into florets and thinly sliced400 gmdried strozzapreti or other short pasta40 gmbutter, diced40 gmplain flour600 mlpouring cream300 mlmilk120 gmpecorino, finely grated, plus extra for scattering3 tspcoarsely chopped thyme, plus extra to servePinch of finely grated nutmeg60 gmGorgonzola piccante, crumbled, plus extra to serve40 gmcoarsely chopped roasted hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 180C. Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat and fry cauliflower in batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown, adding a little extra oil to pan between batches if necessary (4-5 minutes).
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water until not quite al dente (6-7 minutes). Drain and return to pan with 2 tbsp cooking water.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add flour and stir until sandy. Bring cream and milk just to a simmer in a separate saucepan, then, whisking continuously, gradually add to flour mixture and whisk until smooth and thickened. Season to taste. Whisk in pecorino, thyme and nutmeg, add to pasta along with cauliflower and Gorgonzola and fold to combine. Transfer to an oiled 3-litre baking dish, scatter with hazelnuts and extra pecorino, and bake until bubbling and golden brown (25-30 minutes). Scatter with extra thyme and Gorgonzola, and serve hot.