The leftovers of cauliflowers. There’s always some. For a family of two people one cauliflower is too much to eat in a single meal. For three people one cauliflower is usually not enough.
Here we’re going to use plain leftovers of cauliflowers to make a simple, tasty bechamel to serve with a pasta, as per italian tradition. I remember this dish from my childhood, and to be honest I hated it. I wasn’t really into cauliflowers those days, and eating them twice in a row was really disturbing. Now, I can’t wait to leave some cauliflowers to make it. A privilege of growing up.
Pasta with Cauliflower Bechamel
- Cauliflower leftovers
- The water from the cauliflower cook
- 200 gr of pasta (I suggest egg based pasta, but in this case I used spaghetti)
- (optional) 4 Slices of speck, or two slices of bacon
Put the cauliflower leftovers in a bowl, with some water from the cook (1), and blend them (2). Keep adding water until you get a dense bechamel consistence.
Based on the quantity of liquid you get, add enough butter in a pot as per your standard bechamel recipes. This requires a little math, but I usually do usually circa 7 tbsp of butter each 4.2 cups of milk (the odd quantity of milk due to the conversion from the metric system). So around 1 3/4 tbsp per cup of milk. Thanks god we’re not making cakes, and you don’t have to be really precise. In the doubt, always less butter. 🙂
Heat the butter until it’s all melt then add the cauliflower and mix them for a few minutes until boiling, add a pinch of nutmeg (i wouldn’t add too much of it, or it’ll cover the taste of the cauliflowers), adjust of salt, and allow it to reach the correct density (3). Then turn it off. You don’t need to really cook it since we’ve used no flour.
In a frying pan, fry the speck or the bacon until crispy (4), then take it off and slice it in small stripes.
Leave the stripes away to cool down, and in the same pot where you cooked the speck (in the case of beacon leave some of the fat in the pot to give some smoky taste) and add enough bechamel for the quantity of pasta you’re making, depending how much creamy you want it. (usually half cup per person is more than enough, but.. you might want it more creamy). Keep it cooking at very low heat.
Add enough water to the rest of the cauliflower water to cook the pasta, boil it, add salt and toss the pasta.
When pasta is al dente, drain it and toss it to the frying pan with the sauce, rise the heat to maximum and mantecate for a minute. Then turn the fire off, add the speck (save some for garnish) and mantecate for another 30 seconds, then serve with a grind of pepper on top and the rest of the speck.