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Penne with Cheese, Cauliflower and Broccoli picture

Penne with Cheese, Cauliflower and Broccoli

Penne is a hearty pasta and with lots of good cheese and vegetables, this dish is a satisfying meal.

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  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for tossing with the pasta)
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds total)
  • 1 head broccoli (about 1 pound total)
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • For the cheese sauce:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere or sharp cheddar cheese

Serves 4 to 6 as a main

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the penne according to the manufacturer's instructions. When done, drain the pasta into a colander, and then return it to the warm cooking pot. Toss the pasta with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking. Cover the pot to keep the pasta warm until ready to serve.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cauliflower and broccoli by cutting away the thick stems and cutting the florets into bite-size pieces.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add the cauliflower and broccoli florets, red onion, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften and the cauliflower begins to brown slightly, about 7 to 10 minutes (longer if you like your vegetables less crispy.)
  4. Make the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted and bubbly, whisk in the flour. Cook for 3 minutes and then remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the milk to the mixture while whisking and as soon as the milk is incorporated, put the pan back on medium-low heat. Bring the mixture to a bare simmer, stirring often, and continue to cook until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese (it should melt very quickly.) Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Add the cooked penne to the vegetables and pour the cheese sauce over the top. Toss well to combine; taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot.  (Note:  The dish can be made in advance and placed in a wide, shallow baking dish.  Reheat in the oven at 350F, covered, for about 10 minutes prior to serving.)

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