Tag Archives: bechamel

Baked Pasta “Sicilian” Style

It’s nice to come home to the smell of bechamel and red sauce. 

Last night, I came home late and found my husband in full cooking action.  One large pot had a mixture of steamed cauliflower, cooked pasta, capers, peperoncino, olives and possibly onions in a red sauce.  In another pot, bechamel sauce was bubbling.  There was also a delicious looking pizza with bell peppers, onion and brie, but I didn’t try it because I had eaten earlier. 

This was the mid-way point of a baked pasta dish we’ve dubbed “sicilian” for its red sauce and spicy flavor.  The two sauces are mixed together and then poured into a deep pan that is lined with breadcrumbs.  For the full recipe, click here.  If you’re not a fan of cauliflower, you can omit it and increase the pasta portions.

Yes, this dish takes time but it lasts at least 3 – 4 nights!

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Baked Cauliflower and Pasta With Bechamel Sauce

My husband is trying to save time for both of us by making good, filling dishes that last several days and are also good for lunch.  Of course the first consideration is always taste.  Although this recipe is fairly easy for my husband, I have never tried my hand at making bechamel/mornay sauce.  I encourage you to try it though because it is a key ingredient.  Substituting the sauce with cheese, even excellent ones for melting, is not the same. 

We had so much cauliflower and pasta that my husband decided to make a second, different recipe out of the same primary ingredients.

Ingredients for Recipe 1:

Rotini Pasta (1 pack of Barilla)

Cauliflower (1)

Peas (1 can or jar)

Cotija cheese, or parmigiano

Eggs (2-3)

Breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning

Salt

Black Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Additional Ingredients for Recipe 2 that we have now dubbed “Sicilian” for its spiciness:

Anchovy Fillets

Capers

Plum Tomato Sauce

Italian Peperoncino (1)

Breadcrumbs

For the Bechamel/Mornay sauce:

Flour

Whole Milk

Butter

Grated Parmigiano or gruyere

Nutmeg (to grate)

Recipe:

1 ) Steam or boil the cauliflower.

2 ) Cook the rotini pasta according to direction. Drain.

3 ) Roughly chop the steamed caulifower and toss with the pasta and peas in a large bowl.

4)  Add grated Parmigiano or Cotija cheese and mix well.  

5 ) Season with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

6 ) Add 2/3 uncooked eggs and mix well.

7 ) Scoop the ingredients into a large baking pan, creating one layer.

8 ) Make the sauce mornay or bechamel( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Béchamel_sauce )

9 ) Pour the Sauce Mornay on top of the Pasta/Cauliflower/Peas mixture.

10 ) Add another layer of the cauliflower and pasta mixture.  Pour on another layer of the sauce mornay on top.  

11 ) Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes at 350 degrees, OR until the top is slightly browned.

For the Second recipe, use the remaining or leftover mixture.

12 ) Add the plum tomato sauce into the cauliflower and pasta mixture.

13 ) Add the capers, black olives, 1 crushed peperoncino and chopped anchovy fillets and mix all the ingredients well.

14 ) As with the first recipe, pour into a baking pan and sprinkle bread crumbs on top.

15 ) Bake for approximately 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let it sit before serving.  This is important because the flavors come together once it cools down. It also makes a great lunch because it tastes just as good when reheated.  We’ve been eating these two dishes for 3 nights, plus 2 lunches, yet it never feels like leftovers.