3 cups torn stale white bread
4 tablespoons butter
5 cloves garlic
2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup half 'n' half or whole milk
4 ounces Neufchatel (or reduced-fat cream cheese)
1 ½ cups grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 teaspoons dry mustard or 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon
A little freshly grated nutmeg (1/16 teaspoon)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 pound short-cut pasta
Chopped flat-leaf parsley and a sprinkle of paprika, to serve
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously.
Grind the bread into crumbs by pulsing torn pieces in a food processor.
Melt butter in skillet with a clove of crushed garlic over medium heat. Add bread and toss to coat and lightly toast.
Add cauliflower to the water and the remaining garlic. Boil 12 to 15 minutes until tender. Remove to a bowl with a spider.
To a large blender, add stock, half 'n' half or milk, Neufchatel, 1 cup Gruyere, ½ cup Parm, mustard, nutmeg, cayenne and 2 good pinches of salt. Add half the cauliflower and puree the ingredients into smooth sauce.
Preheat broiler, with rack at center.
Cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions. Drain and add back to hot pot, combine with sauce and whole florets and coat evenly, then turn into casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs and the remaining grated cheeses. Brown under broiler and top with parsley and paprika.