The other day I found myself with a fridge full of gorgeous vegetables but very few ideas about what to cook for dinner, so I decided to make an old standby - ‘Pasta Thing’. I just start with whatever is in the fridge plus a bit of dried pasta and see what evolves. It’s usually a pretty successful undertaking, and this time was no exception. It was so easy and cleanup was a breeze because I cooked the pasta in the sauce all in one pan. Dinner was on the table in only a little over half an hour, and everyone enjoyed it so much that there were intense negotiations about who got to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day!
To serve four to six people you need:
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 to 3 carrots, peeled and finely sliced in circles or half moons
2 cups broccoli florets
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried parsley plus more for garnish
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup Madeira or sherry (optional but very nice!)
3 generous tablespoons flour
1 cup vegetable stock
6 cups milk
2 generous tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cups bow tie or penne pasta (about 250 grams or half a pound)
¼ cup vegetarian Parmesan style cheese
¾ cup vegetarian cheddar cheese
Heat the oil in a large lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about five minutes or until it begins to soften and become translucent. Add the chopped pepper, carrots and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the oregano, thyme, parsley and pepper.
Turn the heat up just a tiny bit and add the Madeira or sherry, if using. Stir it round and let it sizzle a bit.
Sprinkle the flour over top of the vegetables and stir through. Cook for a minute or so.
Stir in the stock, milk and mustard and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
Add the pasta shapes and stir them through. Pop the lid on the pan, lower the heat a little and cook for about five minutes, stirring from time to time to make sure it does not stick to the pan. (Lower the heat a bit if it begins to stick.)
Add the broccoli and the cheeses and stir through. Put the lid back on and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. The dish is done when the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is tender.
Taste and check the consistency, adding a tiny bit more milk if you need to. Add salt and a bit more pepper to taste.
I served this with my Mom’s frugal and delicious garlic bread.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. I reheated them in the microwave, gently stirring through a tiny bit of milk to loosen the sauce.