Thursday, June 25, 2009
I don't often discuss the true stars of this blog, the cookbooks. I recently spotted this cookbook in a Barnes & Noble and just knew I had to have it. Well, to be fair, I feel that way about most cookbooks. But this one really spoke to me. I've been wanting to expose myself to the wonderful world of casseroles - partially because a friend of mine just had a baby, and that seems like the perfect opportunity to flex my casserole muscle.
The cookbook is called The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever, and it's by Beatrice Ojakangas. This is the first recipe I've made from it, and it is appropriately simple and crowd-pleasing. I intend to get into the more complex ones in the near future.
This recipe is really a basic pasta and sauteed veggie dish, but there is something extra homey about it. Maybe because it's baked after cooking, or because it does have a roux-based sauce. Whatever the reason, with my tweaks, I can definitely report that it was tasty and a good go-to meal that doesn't take a whole lot of time or effort.
adapted from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever
1/3 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni
1/2 tablespoon EVOO
3 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 small bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch ground cumin
1 bunch thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 medium-sized tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon whole wheat flour
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan
freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400. Spray a small-ish casserole dish (about 2 quarts) with cooking spray.
2. Cook macaroni according to package directions, until just al dente. Drain and transfer to the casserole.
3. Return the saucepan to the stove and heat EVOO over medium-high heat. Add chopped scallions, garlic, and bell pepper, and cook until soft but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in parsley, oregano, cumin, asparagus, and tomato. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until asparagus is just tender. Mix cooked veggies in with the pasta.
4. Return the saucepan to the stove again and melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk and cook, whisking until sauce is thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan and pepper to taste. Stir the sauce into the pasta and veggies.
5. Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is lightly browned and sauce is sizzling.
This is not a crazy cheesy macaroni dish; the sauce is delicate and the veggies play a major role. Enjoy!