Every time I see Bechamel Sauce or white sauce, I always rememeber my favourite restaurant, Eden in Besant Nagar, Chennai. I loved two of their dishes…One was the Corn Florentine, which was simply beds of flavoured sweet corn languished in bechamel sauce, choked with cheese and sprinkled with a little pepper as I remember it…The other all time favorite dish was called “Vegetable Risotto” which was a small mound of rice pilaf flavored with mild spices, with steamed veggies spotted with crushed pepper powder, bathed in warm flavorful bechamel sauce in the center of this mound. You had to dig in to the rice, and it would slice out that little heaven of veggies in the white sauce from within and present itself to be sampled. I have never tried to recreate this dish as I am sure, I can never actually get it right…Although I often wonder why it was called Risotto, which is a small grained rice which is extremely sticky and starchy!!! My love for this bechamel sauce started right then and there and I wanted to capture its essence in this beautiful pasta dish, which is a twist on Giada`s!!!
2 Pounds Fresh Mushrooms ( I used a combination of cremini, baby bella and white button ).
1 Medium Red/White Onion.
3 Garlic Cloves.
1 Tsp Fresh/Dried Rosemary.
1 Tsp Fresh/ Dried Thyme.
1 Tsp All Spice.
1 Tsp Pepper.
Salt to taste
Pinch of Nutmeg.
1/2 Cup Smoked/Plain Mozarella.
1/3 Cup Sharp Cheddar/ Smoked Cheddar.
Parmesan Cheese to sprinkle.
Pinch of Paprika.
1 Pound of Multi Coloured/Plain Fusili Pasta. (Any pasta of your choice).
2 Tbsp Cup Margarine.
2 Tbsp Butter.
1/3 cup All Purpose Flour.
3 Cups 2% Milk.
Pinch of Nutmeg.
- Wipe down each mushroom with a clean kitchen towel. Chop it in to 4 quarters. Set aside.
- Chop the onions and garlic in to fine pieces.
- In a skillet add a spoon on extra virgin olive oil and allow to heat a little. Add the diced onions and allow to sweat a little. Flavour with salt and pepper.
- Add the diced garlic over the onions to prevent them from burning. When you smell the aroma of the garlic, its time to pop in the diced mushrooms.
- Flavour with thyme, rosemary, paprika and a little more salt.
- When the mushrooms sweat in a few minutes, switch off the flame.
- In a large pot filled with water, add salt and a little oil before adding the pasta. Cook al dente and switch off the flame. Drain the water after saving half cup of the water in which the pasta was cooked.
- Take a pan and add butter and then the flour. Using a whisk move it briskly to bring it to a thick gravy like consistency.
- Now slowly add the milk and with the flame under medium, whisk the pot to allow the sauce to thicken.
- Simmer and stir continuously over medium heat and do not allow the roux to boil as this might cause it to thicken way beyond the desired consistency.
- After 6 minutes or so, you will see the sauce slowy thickening and coming together.
- Add a pinch or so of nutmeg and stir in well.
- When you dip a ladle in to the roux and you see a creamy coating, then its time to switch off the flame.
- Add the grated smoked mozarella and smoked cheddar and watch the cheeses slowly melting in to the sauce and thickening more.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a rectangular greased baking pan, add the cooked pasta, bechamel sauce and the sauteed mushrooms. Stir in well and if you feel its a little thick, add some of the salted water in which the pasta was cooked.
- Top the pan with a spattering of grated mozarella cheese and cook for about 10 – 12 minutes or until the cheeses get bubbly.
- When cooled slice in to the pan, for some heaven and sit back and enjoy!!!