Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Broccoli and Cheese Sauced Pasta with Spring Herbs for Presto Pasta Nights

Looking for a crowd pleasing supper dish that's easy to make and beautiful to bring to the table? Well, I found one, thank heavens, for my finicky family and just in time too. I'm guest hosting Presto Pasta Nights #265 this week and needed some some gorgeous carbs to share with you all. 

For the uninitiated, Presto Pasta Nights is a weekly celebration of the world of pasta started by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast many moons ago. Each Friday roundup showcases interesting varieties of pasta: macaroni, noodles, spaetzle, pierogies, gnocchi and many glorious other species, prepared in traditional recipes or in intriguing new flavor combinations. You can check back at Presto Pasta Nights to research some of the archives for new recipe ideas or come back here this Friday to see what some great cooks are concocting in their pasta pots.

As my regular readers know, this is a gluten-free blog, so wheat-based noodles don't get center stage. However, there are a wealth of other corn, quinoa, rice, buckwheat and other pasta varieties available in today's markets and of course, homemade gluten-free noodles are fun (if messy) to whip up. I used bright yellow corn noodles for my dish, which began with a couple of heads of broccoli, a wedge of smoked gouda and a trip out to the herb garden.

One of my family's favorite pasta dishes is a simple bit of steamed chopped broccoli bathed in a garlic butter sauce. It's quick to make for those busy weekday dinners and it suits all of my vegetarians and non-vegetarians, gluten-free and gluten-full eaters alike. I was thinking about that smoked gouda that had been hanging around my fridge, though, and thought that since steamed broccoli with cheese sauce is such a proven winner, pasta with a cheesy broccoli sauce would be a natural pairing.

After perusing some of my cookbooks and prowling the Internet, I see that this idea has not only been dreamed up before, it's sort of a standard. Well, it was new to me and my family, and with the addition of fresh spring herbs generously strewn on top, it was gobbled down mighty quick at Chez Crispy.  The smoked gouda really lends a rich flavor to this pasta sauce and the delicate onion taste of the snipped chives and chive blossoms just makes everything sing. You could substitute in another kind of cheese, but I think the smoked gouda was the key ingredient here.

Broccoli and Cheese Sauced Pasta with Spring Herbs

1 lb. of your favorite pasta (I used corn spaghetti)

2 broccoli crowns, chopped into florets and stems cut into small cubes
3 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. white rice flour
2 cups milk

1 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes: Parmesan cheese shavings, snipped fresh chives and chive blossoms, snipped dill

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse in hot water to remove starch and keep from sticking. Keep warm.

Bring 1 cup salted water to a vigorous boil in another large pot. Add in broccoli and steam until just crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water to keep green color bright. Set aside.

While pasta water is boiling, whip up your sauce:

Melt butter in large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add rice flour and blend together well. Gradually add in milk, stirring constantly to keep sauce smooth. When sauce starts to bubble and thicken, add in grated cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. When cheese is all melted and blended in, add cooked broccoli.

Dress pasta with broccoli and cheese sauce. Lay on a blanket of shaved Parmesan cheese, snipped chives and chive blossoms and a wee bit of dill and serve hot.

Makes 6-8 servings.

I love when my chive plants are blossoming and will be strewing these lovely lavender blooms on my salads, pastas and stir-fries as long as they keep coming (and the bumble bees allow me in to harvest them). Incidentally, fresh chives are ridiculously easy to put up for eating out of season. Just rinse, pat dry and snip. Pack them into freezer containers or bags and you can just pull them out whenever you need a bit of chlorophyll over the winter. They will be a darker green color and a bit limper when they thaw, but they are very welcome bit of greenery and spring flavor in the heart of winter.

I'll be accepting Presto Pasta Night submissions through early Friday morning (May 25), and plan to post the roundup later that afternoon, so please feel free to send me your awesome pasta blog posts until then. I've already received some really tasty entries that I am excited to share with you later.


Foods for Hair and Skin said...

I love this recipe, thanks for sharing. Nice & simple. I am going to try and make it for my boyfriend!
Nicole <3

Anonymous said...

yum! that looks great! thanks for sharing!

Ruth Daniels said...

What a wonderful entry for Presto Pasta Night and perhaps I'll help myself to some lovely greens from my daughter's garden to add to my version. And thanks so much for hosting this week. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.