Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Baked Fusili with broccoli and portobello mushrooms

Baked pasta with bechamel sauce and cheese is very homey and satisfying on a cool night. Loaded with veggies and whole wheat pasta you could even justify that it is good for you. This baked dish has crisp broccoli and sauteed portobello mushrooms with leeks. Leeks give a mild onion flavor and the portobello mushrooms are meaty and pair well with whole wheat pasta which is hearty. As an aside, did you know that one of the theories on how portobello mushrooms got their name is from Northern Italy where portobello mushrooms are called "cappellone" which means "big hat".

Baked Fusili with Broccoli and Portobello Mushrooms
2 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 leek, white and light green parts only - finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cups broccoli florets, cut into two if they are large
3 cups whole wheat fusili (Any whole wheat short cut pasta will work)
2 cups Bechamel sauce (recipe follows)
1.5 oz sharp cheddar, grated
1.5 oz gruyere, grated
3 oz shredded mozzarella

Equipment: A 8 inch square glass or porcelain baking dish

  1. Heat a large saute pan with extra virgin olive oil. Add the leeks and garlic and saute over medium heat for 3 minutes until the leeks have softened. Add the sliced portobello mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cook for about 5 minutes till the mushrooms are brown and soft. Remove to the baking dish.
  2. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the baking dish. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as per the instructions on the box. The pasta needs to cook all the way through since the baking process is just to heat all the components and melt the cheese. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the baking dish along with the sauteed mushrooms and broccoli.
  3. Mix with 2 cups of the bechamel sauce and top with the grated cheese mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. By now the cheese would have melted. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 12 minutes to brown the cheese just so slightly. Serve immediately, otherwise the cheese will harden.
Serves 3.

Note: great with the roasted cippolini onions.

Bechamel Sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cup 2% milk or whole milk
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  1. Mel the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Once the butter has melted but not brown, add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking for 4 to 5 minutes till the mixture turns a golden sandy color. Add the milk slowly, over low heat, whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
Yield: 2 cups

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