I used to think I had one of the pickiest eaters in the world. My oldest daughter. She started out like a champ. She was a huge baby and drank that formula like there was no tomorrow. She was literally a Michelin baby. I wish I was kidding but I am totally not. She had rolls like nobody’s business. And when we started on solids, she ate everything we put down on her tray. It was amazing. And easy. And then she turned 2. It all changed from there.
But now I know better.
Kids go through phases. Their eating preferences will change. So the cheese that she used to love, she might grow to dislike and turn away forever. I seriously don’t know how she cannot like cheese. Some kids are adventurous and some are not. And even though I know now what she likes and what she will eat, I still try to introduce new foods to her. And that’s what we did tonight.
I might have the only 5 year old who does not like mac n cheese. Because I love it so much and want to make it more often, totally selfish I know, I have been determined to try different recipes and experiment. . . so I thought, what if I dice up some vegetables she likes, toss it all together and bake it? She didn’t go for it. She could smell the cheese, which apparently is appalling to her and – because we have a deal that she has to take at least 1 or 2 bites- took maybe two bites and turned it away. Are you kidding me? This baked pasta was delicious. And this is the first time I have tasted and cooked with Taleggio cheese. Oh my gawd! So good!
But my kid doesn’t like cheese so what was I thinking? Well, that’s ok. Everyone else ate it and we’ll try something new again next month.
The best part about this pasta was that I got to test drive my new countertop oven from KitchenAid. This truly is a countertop oven that performs like a full-size oven. This Countertop Oven bakes and broils at temperatures up to 450 degrees (F). And just like any good toaster oven, this toasts and warms food and has a removable broil pan with grill and nonstick interior for easy clean-up.
Baked Shells with Cauliflower and Taleggio Cheese
- about 2 cups cauliflower diced
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 cup zucchini diced
- 1-2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- about 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese + more for garnish
- 1 cup Taleggio cheese—rind discarded cheese cubed
- 1/2 pound or 8 ounces shell or seashell pasta, such as conchiglie
- 3-4 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
- roasted seasoned asparagus tips as garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 450°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with cold water. Boil the cauliflower until tender, for about 3 minutes only. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower to the cold water and let cool slightly. Drain and pat dry; keep the cooking water hot.
- In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until softened, for about 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower and and diced zucchini and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until a little browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine (or stock) and boil until evaporated. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the heavy cream, 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano and all of the Taleggio cheese.
- Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Mix the cauliflower and cheese sauce into the pasta and toss well. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired.
- To assemble in the ramekins: Fill each ramekin with the pasta about 2/3 way up and top with about 1 tablespoon (each) of the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano over each one. If adding/using the asparagus tips, you can top with these.
- Bake the pasta for about 10-15 minutes, until the top is a little golden and crisp. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine.
Disclosure – KitchenAid provided my family with the countertop oven featured for recipe development, all opinions expressed here are my own.