Friday, February 24, 2012

Winter Mac 'n Cheese

When winter strikes, there's nothing like a warm oven and some comfort food.

This, of course, is a classic but it's been gussied up with winter vegetables. It takes a little longer because you have to roast all the vegetables separately but it's wonderful when it all comes together.

The trick with vegetables of the brassica family (brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc.) is to roast them. It brings out the inherent sweetness in them without the smelly part (which occurs if you boil them.) They also happen to be absurdly nutritious.

The house will smell really nice with all the roasting and if you really want to amp it up a notch, a little truffle oil will take it to the next level.


4 cups whole-wheat penne

1 head radicchio (sliced into thin strips)
1 small cauliflower (cut into florets)
1 large carrot (diced)

2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup gruyère (grated coarsely)
1 cup parmigiano-reggiano (grated coarsely)

4 tbsp fresh rosemary (chopped fine)
4 tbsp fresh thyme


olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

2 tbsp truffle oil (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the radicchio with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for about 15-18 minutes. Remove.

Toss the cauliflower with olive oil and pepper (no salt! - otherwise the mixture will be overly salty) and roast for about 15 minutes. Remove.

Cook the penne in heavily salted water until under al dente (about 12 minutes.)

Meanwhile, make the béchamel. Heat the butter. Add the flour, and let it cook at medium low heat until it is golden (but not brown). Add the milk and continue stirring. The sauce will continue to thicken. Add the salt, black pepper, nutmeg, rosemary and thyme, and take it off the heat.

Combine the penne, the sauce, vegetables, the cheeses, and truffle oil (if using) in a oven-proof casserole. Top off the dish with the breadcrumbs (this is the real secret to success!)

Bake covered for about 30 minutes. Bake uncovered for about 12-15 minutes until the top is golden and crispy.

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