Thursday, June 11, 2009

Recipe Rursday: Baked Penne & Cauliflower with Cheese

Is it possible to not like a good home-cooked macaroni and cheese? And I wonder why I don't fit into half the clothes in my closet.

The weather here has been crazy. One night its freezing and the next, we're baking on the back deck. This has been going on for the last month or so and on cold nights, when we light a fire (yes, in June), I crave comfort foods like Mac & Cheese. At the end of January (more appropriately timed) I made a Macaroni & Cheese with Cauliflower that gave me a new-found respect for that tasteless white veggie. We work it into recipes frequently these days.

This past weekend, Chris chose the Baked Penne & Cauliflower with Cheese from our new cookbook Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes (discovered here). It wasn't my first choice, since in my mind we had just made a more simple version in January. But this was different--creamier and many times more flavorful (key additions: cayenne pepper, nutmeg, & garlic). The recipe isn't very representative of the the cookbook, which is more interesting, but a serious dish, nonetheless.

Baked Penne & Cauliflower with Cheese - from Jeanne Kelley (our adaption)
1C chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, mined
1/3C unbleached all-purpose flour
3 C cold milk
8 oz. Gruyere cheese & 8 oz. white cheddar, grated
Pepper & 1/2t. salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper (we used more)
1/8 t. nutmeg
3/4 lb. ziti pasta
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, then sliced
1/4 C panko
1/4 C freshly grated Parmesean
(We skipped a bay leaf, fresh parsley, and the melted butter for the panko.)

1. Preheat oven to 350F, butter or spray a baking dish. And get water boiling to cook the pasta.
2. In a touch of butter, saute onions (5 min), garlic, and flour (stir for 1 more min.). Then add the milk all at once -- cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture just boils and thickens (8 min.). Add the cheeses and simmer, stir until melted. Stir in salt, cayenne, pepper, and nutmeg.
3. Cook the pasta in heavily salted boiling water until almost tender. Add the cauliflower to the pasta and continue boiling until both are tender (about 4 more min). Drain and add the pasta/cauliflower to the cheese mixture and stir will.
4. Transfer to the baking dish. Combine panko with parmesan cheese, salt lightly, mix and sprinkle over the top of the pasta.
5. "Bake until the crumbs are golden brown and the pasta bubble at the edges adn is heated through, about 30 min."

Our side dish: Roasted Brussels Sprouts & walnuts (tossed lightly in spicy mustard & olive oil). Salt & pepper. Find a similar recipe from a previous post, here.
Next up: Grilled Swordfish with Pimenton.
Last week's Recipe Rursday: French Onion Soup