Monday, February 18, 2008

Meatless Main Dish Monday: Baked Pasta with Cauliflower and Cheese

A short administrative note: Warmest congratulations to one of my favorite blog-families, the Sweet Junipers; now proud parents of both Juniper and also brand-new Gram Woodward, born early this morning. Welcome to the world, little boy.

This is the dinner I intended to make tonight. We got home from the beach and we are not hungry, we are not interested in cooking, we are not patient enough to make this meal. So tonight it's sandwiches, but tomorrow, it's going to be this. It's surprisingly easy to throw together; the hardest thing is making the cheese sauce. Still, it's a little rich and a little luxurious, and it's got vegetables in it. It's not junk food, it's got veggies!

Serves 4

Baked Pasta with Cauliflower and Cheese

12 ounces pasta in short tubes, like elbow macaroni or rotini
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups reduced-fat milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion (about 1/2 cup), very finely diced
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook pasta and cauliflower in boiling water together for a minute or two less than the pasta package suggests (it should be very al dente.) Drain the pasta and cauliflower, keep warm.

In a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, stir until you can smell them cooking, 30 seconds or so. Sprinkle in the flour, whisk together and cook over medium heat until flour begins to become slightly blonde.

Slowly whisk the milk into the roux and adjust the heat so that the mixture comes to a bare simmer. Do not boil. Whisk in the mustard, yogurt, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture thickens too much (it should coat the back of a spoon) add a little more milk.

Add the shredded cheddar half a cup at a time, stirring between additions, making sure the cheddar is fully incorporated before adding more. Add half the parmesan cheese to the mixture as well.

Stir the pasta and cauliflower into the cheese sauce, and transfer to a large baking dish. Toss together the bread crumbs and the remaining parmesan cheese and spread over the top of the casserole. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until bubbly and browned, about 30-40 minutes.

No comments: