Another of the recipes that Rose tried out when she was our nightly cook. (Oh, those were the days!). This was really tasty and comes in handy for meatless Fridays.
SHORT PASTA WITH CAULIFLOWER
Adapted from Italian Cookbook (page 92)
1 medium cauliflower
3 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1-1/4 lb short pasta
Bring large pan of water to a boil. Wash the cauliflower well, and separate it into florets. Boil the florets until they are just tender, about 8-10 minutes. Remove them from the pan with a strainer or slotted spoon. Chop the cauliflower into bite-size pieces and set aside. Do not discard the cooking water.
Make a béchamel sauce by gently heating the milk with the bay leaf in a small saucepan. Do not let it boil. Melt the butter in a medium heavy saucepan. Add the flour, and mix it in well with a wire whisk ensuring there are no lumps. Cook for 2-3 minutes, but do not let the butter burn.
Strain the hot milk into the flour and butter mixture all at once, and mix smoothly with the whisk.
Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook for 4-5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cheese, and stir over low heat until it melts. Stir in the cauliflower.
Bring the cooking water back to a boil. Add salt, and stir in the pasta. Cook until it is al dente. Drain, and tip the pasta into a warm serving bowl. Pour over the sauce. Mix well, and serve at once.