Thanks to Frugal reader Millie for finally giving a name to a Fru Gal Favorite--pasta topped with a delectable white sauce and whatever hasn't liquefied in the bottom of the fridge.
This is the perfect dinner for those days when you either can't get to the market because you are too busy or because you have flat run out of money.
It is delicious and at least fairly nutritious. And while this version is vegetarian, if you've got some leftover protein, feel free to chop it up and add it at the end.
Cream of Crisper Drawer
To Serve 6-8 starving minions
1 pound box of pasta, or two bags frozen tortellini, cooked according to package directions, drained and dumped into a warm serving bowl.
6 tablespoons butter
1/3rd cup flour
3 1/2 cups of milk or a combination of milk, light cream and /or half and half, nuked until very warm--I know this step is a pain but it makes all the difference in keeping the sauce lump free.
1 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste -- about 6-8 cranks of the pepper mill
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, optional
3 cups mixed vegetables--fresh or frozen or a combination.
If the vegetables are fresh, cut them into very small bits so they cook quickly.
Suggestions: bell peppers, celery, carrots, onions, scallions.
Greens are good too-- spinach, Swiss chard, etc, just be sure to remove the tough stems and finely chop the leaves.
If you want to use broccoli, potatoes or anything else really hard, you might want to nuke them for 3-4 minutes to soften.
If the vegetables are frozen, dump them into a colander and run them under hot water to declump and soften them. Drain well before using.
Suggestions: Peas, carrots, corn, broccoli, green beans (really drain well), pearl onions, mixed veggies.
- Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium low heat.
- If you've got an onion and/or some garlic, mince it and add it to the butter and let it cook for two minutes until the onion is limp and glossy and the garlic is fragrant.
- If you are using any other fresh vegetables like red or green pepper or diced carrots or celery, add them and let them cook for a minute or two, stirring frequently and watching the heat. You want the vegetables limp not brown and you don't want the butter to burn. If you don't have an onion, and are just using frozen vegetables, go to step 3.
- Add the flour and move it around the pan until it is well mixed with the butter.
- Let cook for a minute, turning down the heat if necessary to keep the mixture golden. Don't let it brown, and keep stirring.
- Add the warm milk/cream and whisk constantly until the sauce starts to bubble.
- Add the salt, pepper and mustard and keep whisking.
- Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Add about a half cup of Parmesan if you;ve got enough, otherwise save the cheese for passing at the table.
- Add frozen vegetables (remember to rinse and drain) and stir to coat everything with the sauce.
- Turn down the heat to low and stir occasionally until the whole mess is hot and bubbling.
- Pour the sauce over the pasta.
- Serve, passing extra Parmesan around if you've got it.