Friday, December 07, 2012

pasta casserole with carrots and peas

I've had this casserole craving lately, and it's strong enough that it can't be solved simply by mac and cheese. I feel the need to put all sort of different casseroles together, come up with new and exciting things and just keep eating casserole. This casserole isn't anything mindblowing, but it's definitely a great side dish. (If it weren't for Bunny this could even be the main, really.)

It's a simple formula, really. You need a starch, and almost any will do: pasta, rice, quiona, potato. You need a sauce, and any basic mother sauce can really handle this. You might want some other stuff to add more flavour, this is whatever you feel like or have on hand. I've done casseroles in the past with meats and vegetables, just with meat, and I've even got this idea for the future that some toasted nuts might be nice for texture.

This isn't the mind blowing, best casserole ever recipe. This is really just what I had on hand - rotini, frozen peas and carrots. More than anything it was an experiment to see if my sauce would work and I was quite happy with how that turned out. Really it's the breadcrumbs that make this amazing. It also made a great next day lunch, so there's that going for it.

Also a note on the directions. I've set things up to have you cook the pasta before starting the sauce but it's really not necessary. If you want to start your sauce as your pasta is cooking (or even as the water is coming to a boil) simply pay attention to your timer for cooking the pasta and vegetables and forge onwards with the sauce.

  • 350grams dried rotini
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 cups frozen carrots
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  1. Cook your pasta.
  2. Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. (Rotini is about 8 minutes to al dente).
  3. With three minutes left in your cooking time, add frozen vegetables.
  4. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of cooking water.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350*F.
  6. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter is melted add the flour to the pan, wisking vigorously. Cook the roux for about 2-3 minutes, until it comes to a consistent texture and start to smell like it's cooking.
  7. Add the milk to the roux, stirring frequently. At first the roux will likely look like chunks that wont dissolve, but as the milk comes to a boil and with continued stirring I promise that it does. Keep stirring until the mixture starts bubbling and thickening up.
  8. Once the milk has thickened, add the salt, poultry seasoning and the reserved pasta water and stir until it comes back to a boil.
  9. Remove from heat, add shredded cheese and stir until it melts evenly throughout.
  10. Transfer pasta to a baking dish and pour the sauce overtop. Mix everything up a bit until things are evenly coated. Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over top.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.

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