Cauliflower-Spinach-Pasta Casserole

Cauliflower-Spinach-Pasta Casserole

It's been a month since I last posted and the hubby has been constantly reminding me about it. The last week, whenever I made anything interesting, he nudged me to take pictures encouraging me to resume blogging saying 'Come on, don't abandon your blog!'. I have been quick to respond saying 'I'm not abandoning, just on a break' - break being the key word here. Truly speaking, I'm not comfortable with such a long break either, which can quite tend to abandonment. My slow come back is completely thanks to hubby's push and the readers who have kept me going since Saffron Trail took off

It was after a long time, I managed to cook something new and elaborate - last night. Cauliflowers are totally in season in India now, which you might have noticed on Mad Tea Party too. While browsing through Food Network, they had highlighted some of Ina Garten's recipes, among which was a Cauliflower Gratin - a side dish baked with cauliflower and plenty of cheese. I wanted to bake something similar but heartier and not as a side dish but as a one pot casserole. So it had to involve some carbs in the form of pasta, some more veggies like peas and spinach to make it heartier and spices like garlic and chillies to satisfy our palates. That's how yesterday's dinner was conceived

Cauliflower-Spinach-Pasta Casserole

Cauliflower-Spinach-Pasta Casserole

Time taken - Under 1 hour

Makes 3 generous portions or 4 regular portions

Cauliflower-Spinach-Pasta CasseroleIt's been a month since I last posted and the hubby has been constantly reminding me about it. The last week, whenever I made anything interesting, he nudged me to take pictures encouraging me to resume blogging saying 'Come on, don't abandon your blog!'. I have been quick to respond saying 'I'm not...

Summary

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    Ingredients

    Cauliflower-Spinach-Pasta Casserole
    Dry pasta like penne, macaroni or short spirals, cooked as per directions kept aside
    1 cup
    Large cauliflower florets
    2 cups
    Fresh or frozen green peas
    1 cup
    Finely shredded spinach
    4 cups
    Garlic peeled and finely chopped
    5 cloves
    Red or green chillies finely chopped
    2
    Dried oregano
    1 tsp
    Dried basil
    1 tsp
    Vegetable or olive oil
    1 tbsp
    Recipe white sauce (recipe given below) 
    1
    White sauce
    Butter
    1 tbsp
    Olive oil
    1 tbsp
    Flour
    3-4 tbsps
    Milk
    2 cups

    Steps

    1. Recipe forCauliflower-Spinach-Pasta Casserole:
    2. Preparing the cauliflower and peas:In a small saucepan, take ¾ cup of water. Salt it. Put it in the well washed cauliflower florets and cover with a tight lid. Let the water boil for 5 minutes. At this point add the frozen peas and cover, let boil for 1-2 more minutes. Keep the cooked florets and peas aside.
    3. Bring it all together:In a large wok, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable / olive oil. On a medium flame, lightly saute the chopped garlic and chillies for a minute. Put in the shredded spinach, with a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute till wilted. Add the steamed florets and peas, the cooked pasta. Give it a good stir. At this stage add the white sauce and stir lightly to coat all the contents of the wok.Add the dried herbs and any salt /pepper if needed at this stage.
    4. Baking it off:It is ready to be dug into at this stage, but you can take it up a level by proceeding to sprinkle some bread crumbs and cheese over the top and baking it off in a hot oven for 15 minutes till the top is golden brown.
    5. Recipe for white sauce, recipe adapted from here.
    6. In a glass measuring jug, heat the butter for 30 seconds till melted. Stir in the olive oil. Add the flour one tbsp at a time, mixing vigourously with a fork or whisk. Incorporate all the flour into the fat until it is a smooth lump-free paste. Next, add a few tablespoons of milk, beat till well incorporated into mixture. Gradually add upto 1 cup milk, whisking continuously so that it is a smooth mixture. Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes, till the fat separates out the mixture has thickened well. At this point, whisk vigourously to smoothen it out. Add remaining one cup milk gradually and then microwave on HIGH again for a minute till thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep covered.

    The dish was a delicious alternative to making pasta in white sauce - much heartier and filling, the bread crumbs giving the crisp texture, the cheese giving the rich taste and saltiness - it was a perfect dish which will be made often in our kitchen, with whatever veggies are in season.

    Since I've used fresh crisp, very-much in season cauliflower, fresh spinach into this hearty casserole, this is my entry for Homegrown Gourmet # 4 - Stews and Casseroles.

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