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Peppery Egg Noodle, Farmer's Cheese & Cauliflower Gratin

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Serves eight.

  • To learn more, read:
    4 Fall Side Dishes
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 74

To make this dish several hours in advance, prepare the recipe (but don’t add the breadcrumb topping), cover, and refrigerate. When ready to bake, top with the breadcrumbs and pop into the oven.

  • 12 oz. (about 1-1/2 cups) farmer’s cheese
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter; more for the baking dish
  • 1/4 cup homemade dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small head cauliflower (1-3/4 to 2 lb.), trimmed and cut into 1-inch-long florets
  • 1 cup homemade or low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
  • 9 oz. fresh egg fettuccine
Tip:
Cut the fettucine into 3-inch lengths before you cook it. If you tried to stir long strands of pasta into the thick mixture of cauliflower and cheese, the noodles would clump together instead of integrating with the other ingredients.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish.

In a food processor, combine the farmer’s cheese and cream and process until well blended. (You can also mix them in a bowl; it will just take some elbow grease.)

Melt 1 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs, thyme, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Sauté, stirring, until the breadcrumbs are light golden brown and crisp, 1 to 2 min. Immediately scrape the breadcrumbs into a small bowl and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean.

Melt 1 Tbs. of the butter in the same 12-inch skillet over high heat, until the butter begins to bubble and brown. Add half of the cauliflower florets and cook until well browned, 2 to 3 min., stirring only once about halfway through. When well browned, transfer to a bowl. Lower the heat to medium high, add the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and repeat with the remaining cauliflower. When it’s well browned, return the first batch of cauliflower to the pan, add the broth, and cook until the cauliflower begins to get tender but is still a little crunchy, about 3 min. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 tsp. pepper.

Cut the fettuccine into about 3-inch lengths and cook in the boiling water until tender, 2 to 3 min. Drain. Put the cauliflower with its cooking liquid and the farmer’s cheese mixture in the empty pasta pot. Stir to combine. Return the fettuccine to the pot and stir it all together. Season to taste with about 1/2 tsp. salt. Spread the mixture in the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Bake until the top is lightly golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, 20 to 30 min. (depending on whether it’s been chilled or not). Let cool briefly before serving.

Peppery Egg Noodle, Farmer's Cheese & Cauliflower Gratin Recipe
Cut the fettucine into 3-inch lengths before you cook it.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on eight servings; Calories (kcal): 330; Fat (g): fat g 18; Fat Calories (kcal): 160; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 10; Protein (g): protein g 14; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 28; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 390; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 80; Fiber (g): fiber g 4;

Photo: Scott Phillips

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