Monday, September 24, 2012

Baked Shells with Cauliflower and Cheese

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If you are looking for a meatless entree to serve tonight, I think you'll enjoy this hearty baked pasta casserole. The shells, which are combined with cauliflower and two types of cheese, take everyday mac n' cheese to a whole nother level. The pasta is rich and delicious but I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that it is not quick to prepare. There are three steps to the recipe and while none of them is hard, they take some time to complete and you'll have to plan accordingly. I can assure you that your efforts will be rewarded at the table. The dish comes from the Moosewood Restaurant and this recipe can be found in the collective's latest cookbook, New Recipes from from Moosewood Restaurant. While I'm posting the recipe as it was written, I wanted you to know that I cut back on the quantity of onions it called for. My brain refused to let my hands chop 4 cups of onions for a pound of pasta, so I settled for 2 cups and cooked them until they were translucent. That worked well for me. One of these days, I'll get the courage to try the recipe with the full compliment of onions, but I didn't feel like experimenting with aromatics tonight. While I used fresh tomatoes to make the casserole, a good canned variety can be substituted if you are pressed for time or tomatoes are out of season. I hope you'll try this recipe. I know the mix of ingredients sounds a bit strange, but the combination makes for a delicious meatless meal. Here's how the shells are made.

Baked Shells with Cauliflower and Cheese...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite adapted from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant

Bechamel Sauce
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 quart warm milk
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
pinch fresh nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 cups chopped onions (I used 2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
6 ripe tomatoes, chopped (or 3 cups canned, drained and chopped)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 pound medium pasta shells
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or mild provolone cheese
seasoned bread crumbs

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease or oil a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.
2) To prepare Bechamel sauce: Melt butter in heavy sauce pan. Whisk in flour until a smooth paste is formed. Add warm milk slowly, whisking until  sauce begins to thicken. Add  mustard, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and let  sauce thicken further on low heat. Remove from heat and cover.
3) Saute  onions, garlic, and basil in oil. When onions are translucent, add  cauliflower and saute for 5 minutes more. Add tomatoes and simmer until the cauliflower is tender.
4) Cook  pasta  per package instructions until al dente. Drain.
5) Combine pasta, vegetable mixture, Bechamel sauce and lemon juice in a large bowl. Put half of pasta mixture in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of each cheese. Add remaining pasta mixture and top with remainder of the cheeses. Top with bread crumbs. Cover pan and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until top is golden and casserole is bubbling, about 15 minutes longer. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

One Year Ago Today: Spiced Corn on the Cob

Two Years Ago Today: White  Chocolate and Lime Cookies

Three years Ago Today: Summer Rolls


Top Cuisine avec Lavi said...

Looks delicious! Hugs and kisses!

Life's a shoe said...

wow! looks like a winner!

Cindy said...

Now this looks delicious.

Katarina said...

I would love to eat this! Yummy!

Salsa Verde said...

Hi Mary,
Fantastic looking dish and delicious combination!
Cheers and hope you have a beautiful week,

Alicia Foodycat said...

This looks like a great way to make macaroni cheese a bit less carb-intense! Thanks!

pam said...

Sounds good. I'd have trouble with that many onions too!

SUSANNA said...

Hola Mary guapa tu

Me encanta la coliflor y en esta versión aún más
petonets Susanna

Lois said...

That looks so good! I'll make it on Wed, on my day off! Perfect for our autumn weather here in Ontario.

From the Kitchen said...

Driving home from our son's wedding in Providence a few years ago, we stayed over in Ithaca, NY and had dinner at the original (and only?) Moosewood Restaurant. I had a pasta and cauliflower cheese bake that I believe was very similar to your post. It was quite good! I'm putting it on my "to make" list and might add all the onion.

Thanks for the memory.


Kim said...

This looks like a perfect no-meat supper for me! It's comfort food without too much guilt!!!!

Cindy@NorthofWiarton said...

My "Crabby Cabbie" loves cauliflower; I would have to cut this recipe in half for the two of us. Off to market tomorrow maybe will find a lovely cauliflower there. Still have lots of Tomatoes in our Garden. Mary the Tomato Powder has been processed, just need to give it the test now. Happy day to you and yours.

Unknown said...

Mmmmmm.. these look and sound wonderfully delicious!! The first time I had cauliflower in my pasta, I was a bit hesitant, but I'm glad I tried it.. it actually was surprisingly good :)

Cranberry Morning said...

Delicious! This is just the kind of recipe I love, Mary. I pinned it. It will be on the menu this week or next. Thank you. :-)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I never tire of variations on Mac and Cheese - and the addition of veggies is always good! Looks delicious!

Valeria said...

Hi Mary!
Another appetizing recipe!I like it!!
And thanks so much for the comment :) I really appreciate it!

lindalou said...

You had me at Béchamel. Looks delish and great way to sneak some cauliflower into my diet. (Not one of my go to veggies.)


I love baked cauliflower ... so this looks great.


Suzi said...

I love the Moosewood Cook book and this recipe sounds delicious. I'm going for the onions tough, love them. Tasty.

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

How can you go wrong with this winning combo I love everything in this creamy goodness!

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

Sounds just fantastic! Would love some right now!

chow and chatter said...

love the way you combined two of my fav dishes in this :-)

Claudia said...

When I have 5 minutes Mary, I will be trying this. Longing for comfort and this dish delivers. (I often cut down the number of onions when I see copious amounts - I really tear up during the slicing!)

Chiara said...

It's a perfect comfort food ! said...

I agree with it being a perfect comfort food....

vivian said...

Made this tonight, and it was delicious, but as you said time consuming. I wonder if there is something missing in the directiions regarding what to do with the bechamel? Thanks for a great recipe!

Mary Bergfeld said...

Vivian, thanks so much for catching my ommission. The Becahamel should be added in step 5. I've updated the post. Thanks again. Blessings...Mary

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