This recipe comes from "Macaroni & Cheese" by Marlena Spieler. I am fully aware that there's really nothing healthy about this recipe but the addition of glorious green broccoli made me feel slightly better about my indulgence. This was really very good....creamy and cheesy without being overly rich or claggy. A glass of crisp pinot grigio or two and some roast chicken rounded out this meal nicely. You could make this healthier by doubling the quantity of broccoli and cutting back on the pasta, and you could use whole wheat pasta.
1-2 heads of broccoli cut into florets and stems into bite-size pieces
8 ounces of small shell pasta
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups hot, but not boiling, low-fat milk
salt to taste
dash of cayenne
grating of fresh nutmeg
8 ounces Appenzeller or similar tasty firm cheese, grated
2 ounces Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, grated
Steam broccoli and set aside. Cook pasta in salted water until almost al dente and set aside. (I did both of these things in the afternoon and then popped them in the fridge until I was ready to make dinner)
In a heavy, non-stick saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, then sprinkle in the flour. Cook for a minute to get rid of the raw flour tatse. Remove from the heat and add the milk all at once. Stir with a spoon or whisk to remove any lumps. Return to medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly. Season with salt, cayenne and nutmeg. (I also added pepper) Set aside a few tablespoons of cheese for the top of the casserole and stir the rest into the sauce until melted.
Spoon a few tablespoons of sauce on the bottom of a large shallow baking dish, then in layers, add the pasta, broccoli, and the remaining sauce. (I added some sauce as I layers the ingredients just to make sure everything got some cheese!) Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake until hot and bubbling, and the cheese has melted and browned in spots, about 20 minutes. (as the recipe didn't specify what oven temperature to use, I did 350 degrees F then under the broiler for a minute or so to brown in more) Serve immediately.