1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite size florets and stem pieces (about 4 cups)
1 cup whole milk
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
1 ½ cups of vegetable broth
½ ricotta cheese
¾ cup of finely grated Parmigiano- Reggiano
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat- leaf parsley
½ teaspoon of dried basil
In a medium saucepan, combine the cauliflower, milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Bring the milk to the simmer over medium heat, reduce the heat to medium- low, partially cover, and gently cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Carefully transfer the cauliflower and milk to a blender (working in batches if needed- it will be very hot and you don’t want to overfill the blender). Add the butter and pulse a few times to release the steam, then puree until smooth.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the macaroni and cook it 3 minutes less than the package instructs. Reserving ½ cup of cooking water, drain the pasta.
While the pasta cooks, in a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the shallots are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower puree and veggie broth. Stir to combine.
Stir the ricotta, ½ cup of the Parmigiano, and the nutmeg into the sauce, then add the macaroni and stir to combine. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the pasta water or vegetable broth.
Preheat the broiler. Then, in a small bowl, mix together the panko, parsley, basil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and the remaining ¼ cup Parmigiano and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Rub between your fingers to combine.
Pour the pasta mixture into greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the seasoned panko over the top and broil just 1 or 2 min, until topping is a deep golden brown.