Cheesy Baked Penne with Cauliflower and Crème Fraîche & VEGAN Version! SO GOOD!

Who does not love Mac&Cheese? My friend Shalon gave me this recipe which she super enjoyed and I had to agree! Of course I made this Vegan so I could partake in all the fun and I am SOOO happy I did. Michael and I are obsessed with this dish! This made a huge batch and we were happy to have it to eat all week long 🙂 Thanks Shalon!! YUM!!!!

Note: Daiya Cheese – Ummm have you tried this yet? It is ABSURDLY AMAZING! There has never been a Vegan Cheese this good! I have had it before at restaurants but this was my first time cooking with it. SO amazing!! It was easy to find at whole foods, so awesome!

SO Yummy!

Without Breadcrumbs - Look how cheesy!

Cheesy Baked Penne with Cauliflower and Crème Fraîche – VEGAN VERSION IN ITALICS AND BOLD

* 1 – 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, cored, cut into 1-inch florets
* 1 12oz can of diced stewed tomatoes (drained)
* 5 tablespoons butter (EARTH BALANCE)
* Coarse kosher salt
* 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
* 1 cup 1% lowfat milk (8th continent light soymilk)
* 21/2 cups coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese (DAYIA – Used 3 cups)
* 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated Parmesan cheese (Didn’t use)
* 1 cup crème fraîche (Tofutti vegan Sour Cream)
* 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
* 10-12 ounces penne (3 1/2ish cups) (Used 14.5 ounces high protein penne)
* 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

  1. Cook cauliflower in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using large sieve, transfer cauliflower to bowl. Reserve pot of water.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter (earth balance) in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower; sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cook 1 minute to blend flavors. Remove from heat. Season with coarse salt and pepper.
  3. Return reserved pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; return pasta to same pot. Stir in cauliflower mixture.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons butter (earth balance) in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk (soymilk). Cook until sauce thickens, whisking occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add 2 cups cheddar cheese (daiya cheese); whisk until melted and sauce is smooth. Whisk in 1/2 cup Parmesan (didn’t use), then crème fraîche (tofutti vegan sour cream) and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir into pasta and cauliflower in the pot.
  5. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon in pasta mixture and with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (daiya cheese). Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in small skillet. Add breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Remove from heat; mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan (didn’t use). Sprinkle crumbs over pasta.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake pasta uncovered until heated through and bubbling, about 35 minutes.

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