Friday, 7 November 2014

Broccoli & Caulflower Cheese Casserole

So what is this, exactly? I guess it's a variation on a sformato, or an odd riff on cauliflower with cheese sauce, but whatever you want to call it, it makes a nice vegetarian main dish. I'd serve it with some squash or carrots, and a good whole wheat roll if you wanted some carbs.

I had fun coming  up with a design for the top and I have to take my fun where I find it these days. Alas, this is not from our garden; we are still not able to grow these broccoli and cauliflower in particular, which is sad as they are some of my favourite vegetables.

6 to 8 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 20 minutes prep time

4 cups broccoli pieces (1 bunch)
4 cups caulflower pieces (1/2 - 2/3 large)
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons soft unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
450 grams (1 pound) ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

Wash and break up the broccoli and cauliflower, and set aside about 2 cups of each of the broccoli and cauliflower florets; the nicest, most evenly sized ones, to set into the top of the casserole. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put the remainder of the broccoli and cauliflower into a pot or steamer and cook until fairly tender; 6 or 7 minutes. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and put them into a food processor with the milk, flour, salt, pepper, ricotta, and eggs - you may need to do this in 2 batches. Pureé until fairly smooth. Meanwhile, put the remaining broccoli and cauliflower into the pot and cook for 5 minute, until tender-firm.

Put the mixture into a lightly-oiled 8" x 10" shallow (lasagne) pan, and mix in about 3/4 of the Parmesan cheese. Drain the remaining broccoli and cauliflower florets, and set them into the cheese mixture, in some sort of pattern if you like, so that the tops show and the rest is submerged. Mix the remaining Parmesan with the bread crumbs and sprinkle this over the top. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes,  until the cheese is bubbling and the top cheese is lightly browned. Let set for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

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