Provençal Orecchiette al Forno
I have been horizontal for the past few weeks, taking it easy in this last leg of my pregnancy, having been a tad too active during the 1st two. I look back at my blog in 2009 when I was pregnant with my first and the lags aren’t too apparent, no real period of nausea lag, no final resting period when my activity in the kitchen was almost nil. The difference probably has a lot to do with not having that 3.5 year old to run after, these little people keep you on your toes.
My activity in the kitchen has been next to nothing. I have the great fortune that my husband is an excellent cook and even though he is exhausted from picking up the pieces that I am too horizontal to take care of, I think he is enjoying his time in the kitchen. Inventing new things and revisiting old favorites that he is jazzing up with some new perspective.
This was one of the last meals that I cooked before I put myself to bed. A provencal inspired pasta that we had tasted at my sister-in-laws house, made into a baked pasta with bechamel and a little bit of mozzarella.
Provençal Orecchiette al Forno
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 medium zucchini
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- mix of fresh herbs, rosemary, thyme, parsley (dried herbs du provence will also work)
- 2 tbsps butter
- 3 tbsps flour
- 2 cups heated milk
- salt & pepper to taste
- pinch of nutmeg
- mozzarella, cut into small pieces
- 1 lb fresh orecchiette
Start with the eggplant, cut into small 1/2 inch cubes, sprinkle with salt and drain in a colander for at least 30 minutes to let the bitter juices out.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the zucchini lengthwise into quarters and thinly slice. Quarter the cherry tomatoes. When the eggplant has released its bitter juice, rise under cold water and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Toss the vegetables with the fresh herbs and the olive oil and place on a roasting pan in a single layer in the preheated oven. Roast for about 30 minutes or until starting to brown.
Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add flour and stir. Heat milk in a separate saucepan over low to medium heat. While constantly whisking, gradually add hot milk to the roux. Simmer mixture while continuing to whisk. Sauce will thicken in a few minutes, add more milk if it becomes too thick you want it to stay really creamy. Add 1/2 cup parmigiano when it is off the heat and whisk.
In the meantime fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until it is super al dente, I usually subtract 2 minutes from the cooking time on pasta over here, in the States I would subtract 3.
Drain the pasta and toss with the bechamel and the roasted vegetables. Pour into a greased baking dish and spread evenly. Spread the mozzarella evenly over the pasta.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the pasta in the middle of the oven and bake, covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes. Raise the heat to 400°F and remove the aluminum foil, bake for another 15 minutes or until it is browned and there are crispy spots.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
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