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What's better than adult mac and cheese? Baked Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Bacon and Taleggio is comfort food with an elegant side!


Total time

85 minutes






  • 12 ounces fresh orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided, plus more for the baking dish )
  • 5 cups Cauliflower florets (approximately 1/2 large head)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces Taleggio cheese (rind removed and cut into small bits )
  • cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 4 pieces bacon ( cooked and crumbled)
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup panko
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with oil. Set aside.
  2. Cook orecchiette per package directions. Drain, toss with 1 tablespoon oil and set aside.
  3. Toss cauliflower florets with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread out onto a baking sheet. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Roast for 12-15 minutes or until just beginning to soften and brown. Set aside.
  4. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter over medium-high heat. Add flour, reduce heat to low and cook 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly being careful not to brown the roux. Add the wine and the garlic, whisking constantly.
  5. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Increase temperature to high, bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low and cook 3-4 minutes or until thickened.
  6. Remove from heat and add the cheese, whisking until cheese has melted and been incorporated. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and cayenne.
  7. Combine orecchiette, cauliflower, bacon and cheese sauce in a large bowl and mix well. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
  8. In another small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese, panko, remaining butter and parsley. Sprinkle over pasta.
  9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until crumb topping is turning golden and sauce is bubbling--approximately 10-15 minutes.
  10. Let stand 5-10 minutes and serve.
  11. NOTES
  12. Assemble up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before baking or increase baking time.

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