Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fennel-Leek Pasta Bake

Fennel and leek are both recent discoveries for me, but I quickly fell in love with both of these flavorful vegetables. They are both incredibly versatile and can be used for pastas, soups, salads and gratins. I found a really fresh fennel bulb the other day, and I also had a leek sitting in my fridge. I felt like something cheesy that night, so I concocted this pasta bake. It was pure, cheesy goodness :) Enjoy!

Fennel-Leek Pasta Bake:

Vegetable Saute:
1 fennel bulb, peeled and chopped
1 leek, trimmed, washed and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
2 tbsp. olive oil

Roasted Garlic and Herb Bechamel:
1 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp. flour
2 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
1 cup cold milk(I actually used plain soymilk for variety's sake, but you can of course use regular milk)
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/4 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
dash of nutmeg
2 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. sun-dried tomato paste
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1.5 cups dry pasta
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
3 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup parmesean cheese

For the veggie saute:
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook on medium until transluscent and tender. Add the roasted garlic, and cook for one minute. Add roasemary, thyme, basil and red pepper flakes, and cook for another minute. Then, add the chopped fennel(make sure you have completely peeled off the outer stringy layer), and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the fennel just barely starts to tenderize. Afterwards, add the chopped leeks, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the leeks are slightly tender. Add salt and black pepper, and turn off heat. Keep covered until ready to use.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

For the bechamel:
Melt butter in a pot over low heat(make sure it does not brown). Add the chopped roasted garlic, and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Stir in the flour on medium heat, and cook just until the rawness of the flour has been cooked out, about 3-4 minutes. The roux should be a very light brown color.


Gradually add in the cold milk, a few tablespoons at a time. Make sure the previous batch of milk is thouroughly incorporated before adding the next. Add the chopped herbs, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Continually whisking, let milk come to a simmer, but don't let it boil. Let it simmer for about five minutes, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of spoon.

Add salt, pepper and nutmeg with about a minute of simmering time left. Turn off the heat. After about one minute, off the heat, stir in dijon mustard, sun-dried tomato paste and swiss cheese, whisking until swiss cheese is melted. Discard the bay leaf.

Mix mascarpone with hot pasta until it is melted.

Mix in the veggie mixture and the bechamel.

Pour into a greased 9" square baking dish and top with parmesean cheese. Bake in a 350F oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese bubbles.

5 comments:

Aditi said...

You invented this recipe? Amazing! How much will you charge to be our personal chef this summer? :)

Ameya said...

Haha, you should just come down to NOLA !:)

Anonymous said...

you concocted this yourself??? that's awesome!

Priya said...

Yummyilicious pasta bake, looks fabulous..

Nicole said...

Everything looks so delicious! Can't wait to see what you'll come up with in Paris, just wish I was there to taste it all.

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