½ head cauliflower, chopped
400g macaroni elbow pasta
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 white onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 dried bay leaf
¼ cup plain flour
750ml hot milk
2 tsp mixed dried herbs
1½ tsp ground nutmeg
Sea-salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to season
½ cup finely grated pecorino
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Green salad, to serve
Preheat oven to 180°C. Put cauliflower in a steamer insert in a medium saucepan. Cook until very tender, then set aside.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water until still a little firm. Drain and rinse under cool running water. Set aside.
Heat a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add butter, onion, garlic and bay leaf. Cook for 3 minutes or until onion is softened. Add flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add milk, whisking until smooth. Add herbs and nutmeg. Bring to the boil. Add cauliflower and remove bay leaf. Puree using a stick blender. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in pecorino.
Stir pasta into sauce. Pour into a 4L casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is crunchy and golden brown. Serve with green salad.