Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cauliflower and Pasta Gratin

I decided to make a cauliflower and pasta gratin recipe from the Washington Post.  They've never steered me wrong before so I was excited to give this recipe a try.  Sadly, it didn't turn out as tasty as I would have wanted.  But I didn't follow the instructions exactly so it may be my fault.

The recipe starts out with making a bechamel sauce, which I did the day before.  It was 4 tablespoons of butter (sounds like a lot but it was 6 servings) cooked in a sauce pan, and then add in 1/4 cup of flour to make a roux.  Once that cooked for a few minutes, I added the 3.5 cups of milk.  I used 2% milk instead of whole milk to try to make it a bit healthier.  I also added dried rosemary and garlic powder at this point instead of steeping it in the milk to save some time.  I let it all cook together until the sauce thickened and added salt and pepper at the end.  The sauce turned out well and tasted really good on its own.  I put it away in the refrigerator to use with the pasta the next day.

Something else I changed is I used a mix of cauliflower and broccoli to add in some green.  I didn't pre-cook it as stated in the recipe because I wanted it to be a little crisper to add some textural variety.  I think this change was ok and I liked the texture of the vegetables in the dish at the end.

I then cooked the 12 ounces of whole grain pasta.  Once it was cooked and drained, I added in the sauce from the day before and the raw vegetables.  I mixed it all together, put it into a casserole dish, and topped it with the parmesan.

I baked it for the requisite amount of time, and volia!

 It was sadly only ok for the amount of time and effort that went into it.  The main problem was just that it was bland.  The sauce tasted good by itself but I guess it wasn't flavorful enough once added to the pasta and the veggies.  I'm assuming it was because I used 2% milk instead of whole and because I didn't steep the garlic and rosemary in the milk ahead of time.  If anyone tries this (or a similar dish), you may not want to skip that step.  Adding in the broccoli was a good change, though.

The leftovers did taste better the second day when I added some more salt and some smoked paprika.  I rarely cook recipes exactly as they're written and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  But at least I learn something every time :)  Anyone else make a habit of adjusting recipes or do you stick with the instructions?