I used to think I had one of the pickiest eaters in the world. My oldest daughter. She started out like a champ. She was a huge baby and drank that formula like there was no tomorrow. She was literally a Michelin baby. I wish I was kidding but I am totally not. She had rolls like nobody’s business. And when we started on solids, she ate everything we put down on her tray. It was amazing. And easy. And then she turned 2. It all changed from there.
But now I know better.
Kids go through phases. Their eating preferences will change. So the cheese that she used to love, she might grow to dislike and turn away forever. I seriously don’t know how she cannot like cheese. Some kids are adventurous and some are not. And even though I know now what she likes and what she will eat, I still try to introduce new foods to her. And that’s what we did tonight.
I might have the only 5 year old who does not like mac n cheese. Because I love it so much and want to make it more often, totally selfish I know, I have been determined to try different recipes and experiment. . . so I thought, what if I dice up some vegetables she likes, toss it all together and bake it? She didn’t go for it. She could smell the cheese, which apparently is appalling to her and – because we have a deal that she has to take at least 1 or 2 bites- took maybe two bites and turned it away. Are you kidding me? This baked pasta was delicious. And this is the first time I have tasted and cooked with Taleggio cheese. Oh my gawd! So good!
But my kid doesn’t like cheese so what was I thinking? Well, that’s ok. Everyone else ate it and we’ll try something new again next month.
The best part about this pasta was that I got to test drive my new countertop oven from KitchenAid. This truly is a countertop oven that performs like a full-size oven. This Countertop Oven bakes and broils at temperatures up to 450 degrees (F). And just like any good toaster oven, this toasts and warms food and has a removable broil pan with grill and nonstick interior for easy clean-up.
Baked Shells with Cauliflower and Taleggio Cheese
- about 2 cups cauliflower diced
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 cup zucchini diced
- 1-2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- about 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese + more for garnish
- 1 cup Taleggio cheese—rind discarded cheese cubed
- 1/2 pound or 8 ounces shell or seashell pasta, such as conchiglie
- 3-4 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
- roasted seasoned asparagus tips as garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 450°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with cold water. Boil the cauliflower until tender, for about 3 minutes only. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower to the cold water and let cool slightly. Drain and pat dry; keep the cooking water hot.
- In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until softened, for about 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower and and diced zucchini and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until a little browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine (or stock) and boil until evaporated. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the heavy cream, 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano and all of the Taleggio cheese.
- Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Mix the cauliflower and cheese sauce into the pasta and toss well. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired.
- To assemble in the ramekins: Fill each ramekin with the pasta about 2/3 way up and top with about 1 tablespoon (each) of the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano over each one. If adding/using the asparagus tips, you can top with these.
- Bake the pasta for about 10-15 minutes, until the top is a little golden and crisp. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine.
Disclosure – KitchenAid provided my family with the countertop oven featured for recipe development, all opinions expressed here are my own.
Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet says
Yes, please! Pass the bowl of this creamy pasta dish! Yummers!
Thank you, Anna!
Paula @ Vintage Kitchen says
I remember not liking tomato sauce and parmesan cheese at some point in my childhood. I certainly changed that. And taleggio is one of those AMAZING cheeses. Omg, I love it so much! I have a packet of sea shells waiting to be filled and I can never settle on a recipe. But I will certainly add taleggio. Thanks for the reminder Alice!
yes, I’m hoping she changes her mind re: cheese and some other foods. . to live a life without eating cheese is no life at all! 😛
Linda | The Urban Mrs says
Awww…you’re such a lovely parent, keep on experimenting new recipe for her. I hope her appetite grows better and she gets older. In the meantime, can I take 2 of this, please?
Haha, thank you Linda! My father did the same thing with us and always made us clean our plates. . even if we didn’t like the food! 🙂 I hope her appetite and taste for different foods grows as well. I’m sure it will!
michele @ thelittlewhitekitchen says
Thanks for popping over to my blog! I thought I’d take a moment and take a peek at your recipes, and this one has got me all excited. Any variation on mac & cheese is good with me, and this looks fabulous. I can’t wait to browse through the rest of your site. Can’t wait to try this.
Thank you, Michele!
Nancy @ gottagetbaked says
Oooooh, I love the new addition to your kitchen. It’s gorgeous! And your baked shells is making my stomach growl, even though I just finished dinner. My nephew was the same as your little one – he ate everything as a toddler and then became the pickiest eater ever when he turned 4 or 5. You keep on keeping on by being adventurous and exposing them to new things. They’ll thank you for it when their palates are as impeccable as their mama’s 😉
Thanh @ eat, little bird says
Ooh, I love baked pasta dishes and I love cauliflower … this recipe looks perfect!
Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is collecting links to dishes using cauliflower and/or cabbage. I do hope you link this in. This is the link . It would be great if you checked out some of the other links – there are lots of good ones already. Cheers