Except we swapped out pasta for our favorite winter vegetables—cauliflower, leeks and fennel—and soft cannellini beans. A golden breadcrumb top adds a lovely crisp to the tender veggies. Cook, relax and enjoy!
What you will need: 1 lb cauliflower
10 oz fennel bulb
11 oz leeks
3 oz Gruyère
0.1 oz fresh thyme sprigs
¾ cup panko
2 Tbsp butter
6.75 oz milk
2 tsp mustard powder
14-oz can cannellini beans
freshly ground black pepper
Equipment: large pot
Recipe steps: 1. Prep vegetables
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut stem from cauliflower then cut into florets. Trim end from fennel then cut into thin wedges through the core. Trim dark green ends and root from leek. Cut in half or quarters (if large) lengthwise then into 3-inch pieces crosswise. Soak leek in a bowl of cold water to remove grit.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Add cauliflower and fennel to boiling water and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add leek and continue cooking until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, reserving ¼ cup water.
Finely grate Gruyère. Remove leaves from thyme stems. Combine panko, ⅓ of the cheese, half the thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper and 3 tablespoons oil.
In a saucepan over low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Whisk in 2 tablespoons flour and cook, whisking, 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk then ¼ cup reserved cooking water. Whisk in remaining cheese and thyme. When cheese is melted, stir in mustard powder and season with salt to taste.
Drain and rinse beans. Add to vegetables and gently fold in cream sauce.
Lightly oil a baking dish. Add vegetables and cream sauce and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake until golden and bubbling around the edges, 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!