Simply Stated, this is my best vegetarian meal ever. I always thought I hated vegetarian food because it lacked the rich spices and full flavor of Italian, French, Spanish, Caribbean, Indian and Thai foods so I petty much ignored the genre until I started cooking in my coffee pot. While searching for adaptable recipes, I discovered everybody in the world has full flavored hearty vegetarian meals that might satisfy me except perhaps America, Pizza is the one American exception but Italy seems to have reclaimed that meal as their own,
At the time, I naturally went to my favorite cookbooks and one of my best for Italian foods is Carla Capalbo’s “The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking.” Now my daughter and niece were not just on my case to lose weight by eating less, they wanted me to eat more sensibly; more vegetables, less ham, less fatty meat and pork etc,
One of the first things I saw was that there were many Italian Vegetarian Recipes and the reason is obvious. They had hundreds of years to develop real food that tasted Italian on all those meatless Fridays and Thank God they did. I immediately tried a few vegetarian recipes and each one was more fantastic than the last. I held off on this recipe, Penne with Cauliflower in white sauce because I generally don’t like sauces made with cream or milk and locally cauliflower is too expensive to waste on a bad meal. The simultaneous occurrence of a sale on cauliflower and left over milk from my Great Nephews visit was a sign for me that I must try this meal and I am glad I did. It is not only the best white sauce I have ever had, it was also the best vegetarian meal I have ever eaten.
Now I do have a great advantage over other cooks. It seem that the coffee pot is the ideal kitchen appliance for making a white sauce. When I was still checking for the limits of coffeepot cooking, I made a pot of Clam chowder using milk and condensed soup and went to an all day festival. I returned to my pot of soup 7 hours later and nothing was burnt, scalded or ruined, I was amazed.
The next discovery I made was that a room temperature rue works just fine if you make it an hour ahead of time and work the flour into the butter using the amounts called for in the recipe and then letting it sit at room temperature. As a matter of fact it is far easier to work the cold rue into milk that has come to 160 Fahrenheit (2 hours) using a whisk or fork then it is to work the milk into a hot rue that is very gummy and slightly too hot.
The flowers from1 medium cauliflower
2 cups low fat milk
1 bay leaf
½ stick butter
½ cup flower
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black or white pepper freshly ground
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Mix the flower and butter together with the back side of a fork until a smooth past is formed let sit at room temperature.
- Place the cauliflower flowers with 1 tsp salt in the coffee pot and add sufficient water to the coffeemaker to cover them completely. I did this a cup at a time so as not to overfill the pot. Cover with Aluminum foil and hold for ½ hour.
- They should still be crisp. Drain and set aside.
- Put the milk in the coffee pot with the bay leaf and let come to temperature about 2 hours.
- Remove the bay leaf and stir in the rue, the sauce will thicken right away. Add the cheese and stir in the pot. When all is smooth, add the cauliflower to the pot and gently stir until uniform. Be careful when stirring in the rue and the cheese. I used a fork to transfer the rue to the pot and a whisk to stir so as not to crack the glass pot. I used a Teflon spoon to stir in the cauliflower.
- Serve over pasta and don’t worry if you have to hold it a few hours, just dilute with a little more milk if it thickens too much. No burning, scalding or separating will occur even when you microwave the leftovers.
This meal was fantastic and my vegetarian friend absolutely loved it.