Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pasta with Broccoli Fleurettes and Cheese Sauce

I got home from school late and hungry.  (That happens when one teaches evening classes.)  Although I "cook leftovers" on Sunday expressly to deal with this contingency, none of the usual suspects appealed.  The freezer had various types of frozen meat, frozen French bread, and less than a serving of frozen broccoli.  Not inspiring... at least until I thought of pasta.

Idea: pasta and broccoli fleurettes with an Italian-esque cheese sauce.

I set water to boil for the pasta and took the first step for any sauce: first you make a roux.  I cooked a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour to the roux blonde state, and then began adding chicken stock, a little at a time.  (Cream would have been better, but chicken stock was better for me!)  I tossed in a handful of Publix shredded Italian cheeses stuff.  (Mostly Mozzarella, I think.)  Stir.  Shake in some Tabasco.  (I used five shakes, which turned out not to be enough, but it tasted right at the time.)  Adjust consistency by whisking in more chicken stock.

In the mean time, fling some vermicelli into the boiling water and cook for two minutes.  Fling in the broccoli and cook for three more minutes after the water has returned to a boil.  I was afraid the broccoli would dye the pasta green, but it didn't.  (Good.)  Drain and serve with the sauce and a modest red wine.

This turned out to be quite good, but not up to the standard of a Recipe from the Kitchen at Emory Cottage, which is why you're reading about it here.  It has potential, though... Let's  think!

Vermicelli is the wrong thing for a thick sauce.  Next time I'm trying orecchiette, or even sea shells.  The sauce needed more bite, and not from Tabasco.  What it needed was 1/3 part Parmigiano, Gruyère, or even Cheddar, plus a dash more Tabasco and some salt and pepper.  I think there's a place for some Prosciutto if one is not serving vegetable-tarians, and some croutons sautéed in garlic, olive oil, and maybe a dash of Worcestershire to add interest to the texture.

If one served the revised dish preceded by a cold antipasto with white wine, like a Santa Margherita pinot grigio, and followed it up with a hot dessert, like crème brûlée with strong coffee, it'd make an elegant meal.  Maybe I'll mess with it some more. (If you mess with it, please let me know.)