Seafood isn't commonly used in a casserole, but cauliflower and crabmeat combined with Cheddar cheese sauce create an uncommonly good one dish meal. The casserole can be made using either fresh or frozen vegetables, and if canned crabmeat isn't available (or is too pricey), the imitation crabmeat pieces can be substituted. Whole milk and real butter or a good olive oil spread should be used to make the sauce; margarine tends to separate and the sauce will have an oil film floating on top.
Serve this with a nice, crusty piece of dark bread and a bottle of pale ale for a culinary experience reminiscent of the northeastern seashore.
Cauliflower and crab casserole
8 oz. crabmeat or imitation crabmeat
2 c. cauliflower florets
1 c. green peas or mixed peas and carrots
1 c. chopped onion
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If using frozen cauliflower and peas, thaw in microwave and allow water to drain away. If using fresh vegetables, steam or parboil cauliflower and carrots until just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain off any liquid.
Prepare an 8" casserole dish with nonstick spray. Line with cauliflower, peas and carrots. Top vegetables with crabmeat pieces.
Melt butter in saucepan, and saute onion until just browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and continue to stir until the mixture forms a paste. Add milk, heat until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 c. Cheddar cheese.
Pour cheese sauce over vegetables and meat in casserole dish. Top with remaining 1/2 c. cheese. Season with pepper, paprika and a dash of nutmeg. Bake for 20 minutes, or until sauce heats through and cheese on top has melted. Serves 4.
1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp can be substituted for the crabmeat
Saturday: Stuffed codfish filets