No hunger-pangs, no-food-caused-mood-swings, no-hallucinations about food, and a very happy healthy tummy.
I believe that's one of the best ways to lose those little adamant few pounds and keep your mind at peace too.
Our schedule is that only one of the weekdays can be a 'cheat' day where you can eat whatever you want to, the rest of the days, diet has to be taken care of strictly.
So on this cheat day of ours, I decided to make this all-too-awesome bake dish, of course with a few substitutes and a lot of cheese on top :)
I hope you enjoy eating this as much as we do!
20 - 25 minutes
15 - 20 minutes
40 - 45 minutes
4 very hungry people
3 tbsp / 45ml
2 large cloves
1.5 cups, uncooked
1/2 cup flowerets
2 breasts, boneless
200 gms, shredded
** Any veggies can be omitted or added as per your taste and likes.
Boil water in a large pot with salt and oil. Add the pasta to it and allow the pasta to boil to an 'al-dente' stage. Do make sure it doesn't get over cooked, as it still has to be baked in the oven.
If it is already over-cooked while boiling, it’s going to become a lump when you bake it in the oven.
Once the pasta is cooked, strain it, run it under cold water for a few seconds, transfer to another container, sprinkle some olive oil, stir it and keep it covered with a cling foil so that it doesn't dry out and stick to each-other.
Keep the cheese ready, if it’s in a block, grate it and set aside.
Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized flowerets, and soak them in salt water for a few minutes and rinse them.
Rinse the mushrooms and allow them to dry before you cut them. I have realized that this way they don't turn black in a few minutes. Slice the garlic cloves and keep the required amount of chili flakes ready.
I have used only this much as Ariana too was going to have the same thing for her meal, and the chili flakes we get here are murderously spicy!
1:1:10, that is -
Flour: Butter / Oil : Milk, so
100gms of flour : 100 gms of butter / oil : 1 liter of milk.
These are the specifications for a regular béchamel, but as always, I am going to stay away from refined flour and use wheat flour instead. I have noticed that wheat flour thickens much much more quickly than refined flour, that's why I have used slightly lesser quantity than the regular proportions.
Also, to make it much healthier, I have substituted butter for olive oil and almost half the quantity.
To make sure the sauce doesn't feel too dry or thick after its cooked, I prefer to leave it a little extra runny. Anyways after it cools down it does get much thicker than what it is while on the flame.
In spite of using wheat flour and oil, this sauce doesn't at all taste any less richer, or different on the palate. If you are making this for guests, or anyone else who doesn't know what all have you put in it, give them a chance to guess what are the ingredients, and you would be surprised, almost no one can tell the main flour difference!
if you add the mushrooms at the beginning, they are going to ooze out a lot of water in the oil and you won't be able to give the rest of the veggies a smoky taste.
One the veggies have cooked a little, add the mushrooms and stir well.
Adding the mushrooms right at the end also keeps them from leaving out a lot of water as the rest of the veggies have used up most of the oil for cooking.
This is a variation from the regular béchamel. In the authentic sauce recipe, the flour is sautéed in butter (roux) and then milk is added to the roux.
But since I have used just about half the amount of oil, it was better to sauté the veggies in it first and then roast the flour with it.
Allow the flour to cook for 1 - 2 minutes, stirring frequently, to avoid it from sticking at the bottom of the pan or in lumps.
Once it starts to thicken, then add the salt. The flour in the veggies stabilizes the milk, preventing it from getting curdled.
Once the sauce is cooked, allow it to cool before you add the pasta to it, or else the pasta is going to get over cooked.
Place the pasta+sauce mixture in the bake dish; fill it leaving about half an inch from the rim. Pat down the pasta to make sure it has spread well in the dish.
Generously / as per your requirements, sprinkle the shredded mozzarella all over the pasta, not leaving any corners.
Chicken or any other meat and more veggies can be added to this. And it is a much more healthier option as the sauce is made from wheat flour, as compared to the regular béchamel which is made with a good quantity of butter and refined flour.