At our wedding reception, we wanted to celebrate all of the couples that have selflessly loved their spouses through the good times and bad. In our "Anniversary Dance" we asked all of the married couples to stand. After a short period of time, our DJ asked couples to sit after small yearly increments. ("If you've been married 1 year, please sit." Followed by 5 years, 10 years, 15...) We were so excited when most of the couples were still standing after 30 years! My parents have been married for almost 34 years and love each other as much as they did on their wedding day. What an inspiration for a couple who had only been married for an hour!
It is a wonderful complement when Gram asks me to make a new recipe for her, or to try making her mother's famous orange cookies that she has had a difficult time recreating! (A couple more bugs to fix, but apparently I am almost there!!) For one of our weekly Sunday dinners, Gram asked me to make a cauliflower-pasta gratin that she found in the newspaper and has been dying to try! Of course, I was honored and had to try it!
The outcome was delicious--whole grain pasta tossed with cauliflower and a bechamel cream sauce...you can't get much better than that!
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Yield: 6-7 servings
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 clove garlic, smashed or crushed
- 1 Tablespoon salt, plus more for cooking pasta
- 1 pound cauliflower head
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- 12 ounces dried whole-wheat fusilli pasta (or other small-shaped pasta)
- 1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
- Have a 9x13 baking dish close at hand.
- Heat the milk in a small saucepan (preferably 1.5 qt.) over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until bubbles start to form. Add the rosemary and garlic; remove from the heat and steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup, discarding the solids.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cut the cauliflower into small bite-sized pieces, and add to the boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.
- Use a slotted spoon to drain the water, and transfer the cauliflower to the baking dish, spreading into a single layer. Set aside. Reserve the cooking water for the pasta!
- Then, begin the sauce and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Melt the butter in a medium heavy-duty saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for several minutes to form a smooth roux. Gradually add the reserved, steeped milk, whisking until completely incorporated. Increase the heat to medium; once the mixture is barely bubbling, whisk for 20 minutes to form a smooth bechamel sauce. (It will be finished when the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.)
- Season the sauce with black pepper, salt and nutmeg. Remove from the heat.
- About 10 minutes into the cooking of the bechamel sauce, reheat the cooking water from the cauliflower, adding salt, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook just until al dente. Drain, and add to the baking dish with the cauliflower.
- Whisk the bechamel sauce to make sure it is smooth and pour evenly over the cauliflower and pasta. Fold gently in the dish to cover with sauce. Sprinkle the top evenly with cheese, black pepper, and additional salt, if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the gratin is bubbling, the cheese is melted, and the exposed pieces of pasta are browned.
- Wait about 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!