Saturday, December 30, 2017

Wheel Pasta with Parmesan Bechamel

Birk is at an age now where it is fun for him to look forward to meal.  And I get a kick out of making him meals that he really loves.  He has been brainwashed and trained to just eat whatever is served (and, obviously, bribed).  This is a favorite pasta from the archives that I have made many times.  But I have played around with the recipe enough that I thought I'd re-post it.  Birk has never thought twice about it...until I made with pasta wheels.  Now, he has been requesting it.  Here is my original post and look at this oldie:

This pasta has a creamy-Parmesan sauce.  I am not a huge fan of dairy based sauces because they make me feel sad.  This sauce has a healthy amount of butter for the roux, but the bulk of the sauce is made with a stock and almond milk.  Since all the flavor comes from the Parmesan, the dairy base is not missed.  Technically this is more of a gravy than a Bechamel, but we will all survive with this lie.

I think the smoked salmon is essential for me.  It is basically equivalent to the flavor profile of mac and cheese with hot dogs.  Unfortunately, it can't be made as easily with pantry staples or on a whim, unless smoked salmon is a pantry staple for you.  If that is the case, good for you.  But otherwise, the rest of the ingredients are easy to keep stocked. 

Birk has so far opted out of the balsamic drizzle, but I personally love the tang it brings. 

Lastly, I know my photography skills are making you very envious.  That partially eaten bowl of pasta in low is just beautiful. 

Wheel Pasta with Parmesan Bechamel 
by foodforscot

2 large carrots, peeled and diced (~1 cup)
1 cup of frozen peas
3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
2 cups stock (chicken or veggie)
1 or 2 garlic clove(s), smashed
1 cup almond milk (or whatever you want)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling on top
2/3 lb of wheel pastas (or any short cut, shells would be good)
4 oz. of smoked salmon
(optional) drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction

Fill a large saucepan (or pasta pot) with enough water to cook the pasta and bring to boil.  While water is coming to boil, continue on with the rest of recipe.  Once it comes to a boil, add pasta and salt and cook it until it is done.  Drain and set aside until the rest of the sauce is done.  But likely the sauce will be done first, waiting for the pasta.  

Place the peas and carrots in a microwave safe bowl and microwave covered for 4 minutes on high, or until carrots are soft.  I use a regular soup bowl and cover with side plate.  If you avoid microwave use to prolong your life, you may steam the veggies some other way (perhaps with your pasta).  The frost on the frozen peas is what makes the microwave method work.

In another saucepan, add the butter and flour.  Cook and stir to make a paste (called a roux, if I want to be a jerk about it).  Cook for a few minutes, this will cook away the raw flour taste.  Add the stock and garlic, bring to gentle boil.  Whisk stock and roux somewhat continuously to avoid any burning on the bottom.  After a few minutes of light boiling, the sauce should thicken.  At this point, add the Parmesan and almond milk and cook for another 5 minutes until Parmesan is melted in and milk is incorporated.  You can remove the garlic, or leave it in for a special surprise.

Once the pasta and veggies are cooked (and pasta is drained), add to the sauce.  Mix to combine.  To serve:  place pasta in bowl, top with a portion of smoked salmon and sprinkle with Parmesan.  You can also drizzle on some balsamic reduction, if you want to be fancy about it. 

(Prep time: 0, Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

-You can use 2 cups of frozen carrot/pea mixture instead of fresh carrots plus frozen peas.  You might not need to microwave as long, but I trust you can figure it out.
-You can replace all the stock with milk, if that is what you have. 
-You can replace the salmon with other smoked meat, like hot dogs.  But don't tell anyone about it. 
-You can make your own balsamic reduction.  Put about 1 cup of balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan.  Bring to boil.  Boil until it reaches a syrupy consistency.  Or just buy it.  They sell it right by the balsamic vinegar at places like Whole Foods. 

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