Baked vegetables in white sauce

This is one of my nostalgia foods. I used to love when my mom made this for us growing up.

On weeks when San Francisco temperatures actually dip into the forties, I crave this. It has the creamy comfort of mac and cheese but with veggies instead of pasta.

The recipe calls for a basic bechamel, which requires equal parts flour and butter browned over the stove, then combined with milk until it forms a thick sauce. If you’re vegan or just looking for a healthier dish, you could try this with olive oil and a non dairy milk.

The sauce is pretty simple, so you can flavor it with herbs, cheese, or spices like nutmeg. Here I used minced garlic and nutritional yeast (available at Trader Joe’s) for a mildly cheesy flavor.

Veggies-wise, you can use anything your heart fancies, but I prefer cauliflower, carrots, peas, and green beans. If you use heartier vegetables like cauliflower, it’s best to pre cook those to avoid overbaking the others.

Finally, on ratio of sauce to veggies, I was trying to be healthy-ish, so I put the veggies in the baking dish, then topped it with the sauce. If you want to coat the veggies thoroughly for a gooier dish, double the sauce recipe.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz green beans, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 16 oz cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 4 oz peas
  • 4 oz chopped or shredded carrots
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used a blend of cheddar and mozzarella)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place cauliflower and green beans in a 9×13 baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes while you make the bechamel.
  4. Combine flour and butter over medium heat. Stir until mixture is golden brown.
  5. Slowly add milk and stir constantly. Your sauce should be as thick as most pasta sauces.
  6. Take the pan off the heat and add flavoring: salt, pepper, garlic, and nutritional yeast.
  7. Spoon sauce onto veggies then top with grated cheese.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  9. Broil for a minute to get a crispy browned crust.

Serve with hot sauce and more black pepper. I eat this with Tabasco and ketchup but use any hot sauce you like.

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