Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A Cookbook/Cooking Challenge

Sarah over at Simply Cooked made a brilliant suggestion: why not try a recipe a week from my new collection of cookbooks?  I can't think of a better way to start exploring what delicious recipes the books have to offer.

I'd like to present the first of a series of posts (hopefully weekly) where I will share what I'm cooking from Friedel's cookbook collection (now my cookbook collection). I'll try to mix it up and use as many of the cookbooks as possible, though I can't promise I won't repeat cookbooks. It'll depend a bit on what I have in my fridge to work with.

Today I had a head of cauliflower that needed to be cooked. And I've got to make something that will appeal to the 11 year old I hang out with once a week. I'm not going to have time to prepare anything tomorrow, so something cooked ahead of time would be a huge help.

Recipe #1:
Baked Pasta with Cauliflower and Cheese 
from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, p.158-159

Bechamel Sauce
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk, heated
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • pinch of nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
Other ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil for sauteing
  • 4 cups chopped onions (I used 2 large onions)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
  •  6 ripe tomatoes or 3 cups canned tomatoes (I used probably half of this, but they were tomatoes from my mom's garden which are twice as flavourful as any other tomatoes around)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or 2 tsp. dried basil)
  • 3 Tbs. lemon juice (completely forgot to add this!)
  • 1 pound pasta shells (I used 1 box of whole wheat macaroni)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (I used cheddar)
  • seasoned bread crumbs
Prepare the Bechamel sauce: melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan on medium heat. Sprinke in the flour, whisking constantly until smooth. Add heated milk slowly, a cup at a time, continuing to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper and let the sauce thicken further on low heat. Remove from heat and cover.
Saute the onions, garlic and basil in oil. When the onions are translucent, add the cauliflower and saute for 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the cauliflower is tender.

Cook pasta al dente and then drain.

In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, the sauteed vegetables and lemon juice (oops! forgot that one). Mix in the Bechamel sauce. Put half the pasta mixture in an oiled baking dish. Sprinkle half of each of the cheeses over top. Add the rest of the past mixture, and the rest of the cheese. Top with seasoned bread crumbs.

Bake covered at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, and then uncovered for about 15 minutes or until bubbling and golden on top.

Serves 6-8

PS. The recipe suggests you serve this with Italian greens, but I'm going to serve it with roasted kale, because the kid loves roasted kale, and the green + garlic will go so well with cheesy pasta. :)


sarah said...

Oh, yum. Adding cauliflower to mac and cheese is a superb idea. Also, I really like the taste of whole wheat pasta. I actually like it more than regular pasta now. I bet your Little is going to love this!

Andrea said...

I really like whole wheat pasta too. It's got a richer flavour than the white - nutty, almost. And unlike most 100% whole wheat things, I even prefer the texture of whole wheat pasta to white pasta.

And yes, I've been informed by the Little that anything with cheese on it is going to be delicious.... unless it's eggplant, I haven't sold her on eggplant, yet.

Rach said...

Ahhh!!!! You have a cookbook from moosewood! Envious. I wanted this recipe because I'm always longing for a great mac and cheese deal but we don't have milk in the house. Sigh. I don't want to go out.