I don't often reach for white sauce on pasta night - while the gold standards of alfredo and carbonara are nothing short of mouth-watering, they're heavy, decadent sauces that leave me feeling like a slug. This creamy pasta sauce is light and fresh, but still rich enough to taste sinfully delicious. Toss it with your favorite short pasta and roasted vegetables for a very quick and easy dinner that's both balanced and indulgent.
Roast the vegetables. Separately, toss the broccoli and cauliflower with 1 tbsp olive oil each. Spread between two baking sheets. Transfer the cauliflower to the oven and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, stir the cauliflower and return to the oven. Add the broccoli to the oven and set a timer for an additional 15 minutes. Roast both sheets of vegetables until tender and charred (approximately 15 minutes for the broccoli and approximately 25 minutes for the cauliflower).
Heat a large pot of water until boiling, then season with the salt. Cook the pasta according to package directions to 1 minute under al dente (it will finish cooking in the sauce). Reserve 1-1.5 cups pasta water, then drain.
Place the pot back over a medium flame. Add 2 tbsp butter and heat until it melts then foams. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk until the flour turns lightly golden brown, 1-2 minutes.
Pour in one cup pasta cooking water and one cup milk; bring to a simmer. Whisk and simmer until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and whisk until incorporated.
Add the parmesan cheese gradually, a few tablespoons at a time, whisking until smooth; repeat until all of the cheese has been added and the sauce is thick. Taste for seasoning; add salt if needed and cracked black pepper to taste.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss. Add a splash of additional pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Fold in the roasted broccoli and cauliflower and serve immediately.
Cook the pasta to one minute under al dente. The pasta will continue to cook once it is drained and stirred into the hot sauce, and you don't want soft, soggy pasta.
Any short, ridged pasta shape will work for this recipe - fusilli, penne, and large shells are our favorites.
Grate the parmesan as finely as possible using a microplane so it easily melts into the sauce.
How to store leftovers: store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave, adding 1 tablespoon of water per serving to help loosen the sauce (it will thicken considerably once chilled).
How to freeze the sauce: chill the sauce, then transfer to a tightly sealed container and place in the freezer; store for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge, then bring to a simmer over a low flame, whisking frequently to prevent clumping and scorching. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with pasta water a tablespoon at a time.
Nutritional information includes the roasted broccoli and cauliflower.