I love the feeling of welcoming spring. When the snow is melting and the sun is shining just brightly enough that everyone opens their windows and spends as much time as possible outdoors, after a winter of hibernating. The first flowers and trees in bloom are always breathtaking, and there is an excitement in the air as everyone breaths a sigh of relief, knowing the worst snow storms are behind them.
Then comes summer. A breath of fresh air as the pace of life slows down, days become longer and cooling off at the beach takes priority. Much-needed vacations are taken, afternoons are spontaneously spent playing in the park, and the smell of outdoor grills fills the air.
Oh, but fall. Fall will always have my heart. Even though I love the warmer temperatures and longer days, I can’t deny that fall is absolutely my favorite season. The crisp temperatures, golden leaves trickling onto the streets, and comforting seasonal flavors. There’s no feeling like your going to melt or turn into an ice cube; the only “temperature control” needed is opening or closing a window and/or adding or removing a layer.
If I could sum-up what falls feels to me in one word, it would be “comfort.” Food and drink, like warm apple cider, pumpkin breads, and the return of soup simmering on the stove, all speak “comfort” to each of my senses. When fall begins, I see a distinct shift in my meal planning; welcoming back warm, hearty foods into our kitchen.
This dish is no different. I promptly ripped it out of Food & Wine Magazine when it appeared in the April issue, but it just never felt quite right to prepare during the spring or summer months. However, once fall arrived, I knew the timing was just right. This is truly comfort in a dish. Chopped cauliflower, baked pasta, melted cheese and crunchy bread crumbs. I could definitely see this as a perfect Thanksgiving side-dish, or just to enjoy throughout the chillier months.
Baked Pasta and Cauliflower with Smoked Gouda
Keywords: bake entree side vegetarian cheese pasta Thanksgiving Christmas fall winter
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 3 tbs. olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Rosemary, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, separated
- 1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
- 3/4 lb. pasta shells
- 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the cauliflower until tender, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with cold water. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the boiled cauliflower to the cold water and let cool slightly. Drain and pat dry; keep the cooking water hot.
2. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots, garlic and rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and boil until evaporated. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and Gouda cheese.
3. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Mix the cauliflower and cheese into the pasta and toss together. Spread half of the pasta mixture into a 3-quart baking dish and top with 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs. Top with the remaining pasta mixture, remaining bread crumbs and remaining Parmesan.
4. Bake the pasta for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden and crisp. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve and enjoy!
~What is your favorite season?