Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jumping the Gun on Autumn

Yesterday was a gorgeous day here, unseasonably warm, as though we were getting one over on Mother Nature and squeezing a few more heavenly days out of summer. However, I had a fully fall meal planned - baked pasta with roasted veggies - and I went through with it despite the fact that it involved turning on the oven in an apartment with no AC.

I had roasted butternut squash left over from the salad I made a few days ago and an eggplant that needed to get eaten. I diced the eggplant, dressed it with olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, stirring at the half way point.

Once you have your veggies roasted you need a pound of cooked pasta (I used penne, you should use any type of short pasta you like), a white sauce and some cheese (I used fontina and parmesan). Here's what I used for the white sauce (all already in my fridge!):

6 Tbs butter
4 Tbs flour
salt and pepper
heavy cream

Melt the butter in a saucepan and then whisk in flour. Let this cook for a few will be able to smell it when the flour is no longer raw. Add your heavy cream, I'm guessing I had about half a pint and your salt, pepper and nutmeg (s&p should be to taste, probably about a 1/2 tsp of nutmeg). I didn't expect this but the mixture at this stage got REALLY thick so I added milk...I'm not exactly sure how much, probably somewhere between 1/2 cup and a cup and it settled down nicely and became a creamy sauce. Check your seasonings at this point and adjust, mine was pretty bland so I added more salt.

Once you have everything done to this point, combine pasta, veggies, white sauce and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Pour half of this mixture into an oiled baking dish and top with grated fontina cheese, then layer the second half of the past mixture, more fontina and more parmesan cheese. The crunchies you see around the edges of the pan are fried leeks - they were maybe a little TOO well done, but so delicious none the less...just the savory addition needed for this dish, since the butternut squash adds quite a bit of sweetness. I just thin sliced the white and light green parts of a leek and fried in quite a bit of olive oil until they were nice and crunchy.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until bubbly.

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