Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baked pasta with cauliflower

When people think of Italy, they envision rolling hills basking in the sunshine and imagine that the weather around here is always mild and basically beautiful. Well, if they had been here since April 22nd like I have, they would definitely change their mind. The term "unseasonably shitty" has taken a whole new meaning here and, although this may make me sound like an old lady, I'll say it: I have never seen weather like this in May and this might be the coldest spring of the millennium.

To be honest, cold temperatures have never bothered me. What is getting old really fast is the monsoons of freezing cold rain we have been having pretty much every day for the last two weeks. It's May, for crying out loud, it should be in the 70s and beautiful, not 55 and rainy!

So what's one to do with this weather? Every morning I wake up dreaming of going to farmers markets and the likes, and every morning I have to change my plans because to go to said markets I would have to take a canoe to navigate the streets. So instead I've been cooking dishes that normally wouldn't cook in May like bean soups and pasta bakes. This particular one I've made before my parents went back to the U.S. and I liked a lot, although my dad said it could have used more salt. But since he says that pretty often, I wasn't too surprised. What I liked about it is that it's an easy and quick recipe, and that it has tons of cauliflower in it and since cauliflower is my new favorite vegetable I can't get enough of it.

Adapted from Cooking Light

6  cups  cauliflower florets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
8  ounces  pasta
1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
3  cups  1% low-fat milk
2  teaspoons  chopped fresh or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3  garlic cloves, crushed
1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheese
1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
3/4  cup  finely chopped chives
2  teaspoons  Dijon mustard
Black pepper
2 slices white bread
2  teaspoons  butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400°.

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan; add cauliflower and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boiling water, and cook 4 minutes or until tender. Remove cauliflower with a slotted spoon, reserving cooking liquid; set cauliflower aside. Bring cooking liquid to a rolling boil. Add pasta, and cook 7 minutes or until al dente; drain and set aside.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine flour and milk in a saucepan, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in thyme and garlic; cook over medium heat until thick (about 8 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, cheeses, chives mustard, and pepper. Combine cauliflower, pasta, and cheese sauce in a large bowl. Spoon the cauliflower mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Place bread in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form to measure 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs with butter; sprinkle evenly over cauliflower mixture. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.


  1. Guess what I woke up to this morning? SNOW. Dude, that is soooooo wrong!

    This sounds comforting and perfect for a disappointing day in May.

  2. Snow in May? That's more than disappointing... it's kinda crazy actually!

  3. I cooked this last night... I will be posting it soon, probably later today! :)



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