Sunday, 4 March 2012

PPN Cheesy Cauliflower and Bean Pasta and happy times

On Friday night we went to our local library to see Shirley the Ukelele Lady.  It was a relaxed event and lots of fun.  Sylvia had plenty of space for her Whirling Dervishes dancing.  We also won two door prizes.  A cookbook and a book about food - how wonderful that libraries now have musical performances and give away books!  Afterwards we walked home and ate a bowl of pasta while watching our new Swallows and Amazons DVD.

I wasn't going to post this Cheesy Cauliflower and Bean Pasta.  It was a quick weeknight dish that I made on a low energy night when I was very tempted to get takeaway.  There was a large cauliflower that had been in the fridge for a week.  I was starting to feel guilty every time I looked in the crisper.  It was really intended for Mel's risotto but pasta seemed easier.  It was surprisingly good.  E loved it.  And there were leftovers for Friday night.  So it is recorded below.  Quantities are approximate because I didn't use measurements.

I was inspired by this pasta dish.  Frying vegies on the stovetop, adding a can of beans and some cheese makes for very tasty pasta.  It doesn't seem the healthiest way to eat vegies but it is more satisfying than a jar of pasta sauce and makes the pasta go further.

After a wonderfully serendipitous dish, I wanted to share some recent good things in life.  Not everything has been great - last week was busy with staff meetings at work, it rained all day yesterday - albeit good for the garden - and the trains were terrible today.  But it doesn't do to dwell on such things when I have lots to make me happy:

1. A sunny Sunday.  After yesterday's rain I really appreciated a fine sunny day today.  Sylvia and dolly had a few lovely rides around the block on the new bike.  We had curry, apples and ice cream in the city for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.  And the washing dried on the line.

2. Pancakes.  Yesterday I tried a teddy bear pancake for the first time (inspired by Jim's Pancakes).  I need more practice but am pleased with my start and it made us all smile before dousing it in maple syrup.  Flipping pancakes for Sylvia's amusement is also fun.  Last weekend we had pancakes for breakfast outside before the day heated up (to 38 C) and it was just such a relaxing way to start the day, with the couple across the back lane picking figs from their huge tree that overlooks our yard.

3. Books.  I am really enjoying reading Cold Light by Frank Moorhouse (very slowly).  Yet my most amazing moment with books happened earlier this year.  I had just finished reading a novel and found a picture that looked exactly as I thought the main character might look.  I emailed the picture to my sister who knows the author and passed it on.  The author wrote back to say yes that is her, without the glasses.  If only I had a hotline to authors of other books I read to check I am on the right track.

I am sending the pasta sauce to Simona of Briciole for Presto Pasta Nights #254, a great pasta event coordinated by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.  Last week was the 5th birthday bash for the event.  Belated congratulations to Ruth and all the hosts and participants for keeping it going so long.  I am sorry I have been AWOL from the event for so long but glad to be part of the fun again.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: PPN Spring Rolls, Salad, Changes and CNY
This time two years ago: Each Peach - baby blocks and ice cream that rocks
This time three years ago: Hospital food and mum’s cooking
This time four years ago: Sydney Road – one street, two festivals

Cheesy Cauliflower and Bean Pasta
serves 4
  • Olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut into thin sticks
  • 1/2 cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp seeded mustard
  • 1 dessert bowl of dried wholemeal pasta
  • 400g tin of beans (I used borlotti but would chickpeas would be great), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • seasoning
Heat slurp of olive oil in a large saucepan.  Fry onions, celery and carrot until softened (5-15 minutes, depending on how high the heat is).  Add cauliflower, smoked paprika, mustard and a pinch of salt.  Drizzle a bit more olive oil over it and fry over medium high heat until cauliflower is soft (10-15 minutes).  While cauliflower is heating, cook and drain the pasta according to instructions on the packet (ours took about 14 minutes).  Add beans and stir for a minute or two to heat them up.  Stir in cheeses and add pasta. Add a spoonful or two of pasta water if needed to loosen up the sauce but not too much or you will loose the creaminess of the cheese.  Check seasoning.  Serve hot.

On the Stereo:
Hawiian Sunset: Arthur Lyman

24 comments:

  1. Love your list! And I'm so glad to see you back at Presto Pasta Nights.. I'm going to use my guilt invoking cauliflower too.

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    1. Thanks Ruth - nice to be back - might have a few more pasta bakes now the weather is cooling

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  2. So lovely to hear all the nice things in your life at the moment. I am always guilty of focussing on the negative and forgetting to celebrate the positive. I like the look of the pasta too. I rarely buy cauliflower because it always ends up sitting there in the fridge looking at me balefully and going brown!

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    1. Thanks C - Nothing worse than a cauliflower looking a little brown around the edges but at least caulis seem to keep for some time before they really wilt

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  3. how glorious was the sunshine after a few days of rain and darkness! Mr BBB and I wasted no time in getting out for a walk - and I could not stop gushing about how blue the sky was (dorky I know!!)

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    1. thanks lisa - the sunshine was glorious - and surprising as I thought we would have more grey skies - a lot worse things than gushing about blue skies :-)

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  4. What a brilliant character-in-the-book-photo story! I liked hearing about your library visit and would love to hear how you found Swallows & Amazons (although I just asked you this question about Hugo recently - it is the infrequent nature of my movie viewing, I want second opinions!). I've never been game to watch it as I loved the book and was worried this could be one instance when the characters didn't match my image.

    I also love the look of Sylvia's bike - but am afraid the cheesiness of this cauliflower means I'm much keener on the teddy pancakes than the vegetables ;)

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    1. Thanks Kari - I regret to say that the pancakes were cheesy too but that is optional. I thought it would bump up the nutritional value and savouriness for sylvia who was set on having maple syrup on her pancakes

      Swallows and Amazons is a lovely movie but nowhere near as wonderful for me as The Railway Children which I watched a lot in childhood. I never read or watching S&A as a child so it doesn't have the nostalgic value for me. However it is a really sweet innocent story and the period details are lovely. I loved the Swallow children but didn't really warm to the Amazon children so much. BTW did you see that Neil Hammond of the Divine Comedy (who I love) has recently written a musical version of Swallows and Amazons in the UK?

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  5. Yay for reading and focusing on the good things in life so that the bad parts seem less scary. xoxo

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    1. Thanks Hannah - it is good sometimes to dismiss the bad things as less important when there are lots of good things in life - wish I could say I was always able to do it

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  6. Yay for winning and it sounds like your library has awesome events! Honestly, you had me at cheese with this pasta. I've been craving it like crazy lately!

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    1. Thanks Joanne - we actually also had sylvia's number pulled out for the door prize but by then I felt we had won enough and we didn't claim that one - there is only so much winning that is fair! Imagine you would enjoy this pasta

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  7. your post always makes me happy with lovely family story!
    And this pasta! Lovely and simple!

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    1. Thanks Anh - glad to share a little happiness

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  8. I can't believe how big Sylvia is nowadays! I always still think of her as a baby! :)

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - I think she is like a lot of us - young when she wants something, and frightfully old when it suits her :-)

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  9. This looks really delish - a great way to use up cauliflower.

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - had to get the cauli used so I could reclaim the fridge space :-)

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  10. I make pasta a lot more often than risotto as it's so much easier. If I have a head of cauliflower in the fridge, I'm always tempted to make another batch of Ricki's faux meat. Love the photo of Sylvia on her bike!

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    1. Thanks Mel - I must make more of the faux meat but risotto is still high on my to do list

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  11. This sounds like a bean dish I'd enjoy! I love the bear pancake, so cute and fun.

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    1. Thanks Ashley - I think the batter was too thick for the pancakes but it is a cute idea so will try it again

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  12. I love hearing about the good news tidbits! You can't beat sunny. :) And wow, I think I need to go to the library more often! ;)

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  13. Interesting event at your library! I just received in the mail some "special" paper that is supposed to make the produce in your crisper last longer. I am starting to test it today. I think the cauliflower was very happy to contribute to your pasta. It is so nice when you make a dish out of this and that available and the result is so much more than the sum of the parts. Thank you so much for contributing this to Presto Pasta Nights!

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