Cauliflower has become a bit of a super-food in recent times. It’s the go-to vegetable for many a health conscious type. Cauliflower rice, roasted cauliflower etc. If you’re trying to reduce your carbs and be a bit healthier, it’s the veg for you. This recipe then, probably isn’t. This takes a healthy vegetable and covers it in a thick cheese sauce. And then smothers it in some more cheese. Healthy? Probably not. Delicious? Hell yeah!
I’ve been making this particular cauliflower cheese for many years now. The original recipe came from Delicious magazine. It’s not as straight forward a cheese sauce as my macaroni cheese, but it’s worth the extra effort (which is still fairly minimal – I’m not keen on effort).
1 head of cauliflower
500ml (1 pint) of milk
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
50g plain flour
200g cheddar cheese, grated
1. Break your cauliflower up into florets of similar size (not too big).
2. Place the florets in a microwaveable dish, add a couple tablespoons of water, and cook on full power for 8-10 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through. It needs to be pretty much cooked since although you’ll be putting it in the oven later, I find it doesn’t really cook the cauliflower much more.
If you don’t want to microwave it just pop the cauliflower in a pan of boiling water and cook until done (similar time).
3. Drain and leave the cauliflower uncovered to dry whilst you make the cheese sauce – this is important because you don’t want soggy cauliflower watering down your sauce.
4. In a small saucepan add the milk, cloves, onion and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, then take the pan off the heat, cover it and leave the milk to infuse for about 10 minutes.
5. Preheat your oven to 170°C (fan) / 325°F.
6. In a separate pan, over a medium low heat, melt the butter.
7. Add the flour and stir through. Cook for a few minutes (to cook the flour).
8. Strain the hot infused milk (through a sieve) into the butter/flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
Over a low heat, stir the sauce with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens. This won’t take long because the milk was hot when added.
9. Season with a little white pepper.
10. Add the grated cheese, leaving a little to top the dish. Stir through until fully melted.
11. Place the cauliflower in an ovenproof dish (I usually just use the dish I microwaved it in, but I was going for pretty pictures here so changed dishes). Pour over the cheese sauce so that every floret is covered, then top with the remaining grated cheese.
12. Place on a tray in the oven (there’s a good chance it will bubble over the edge so the tray will save you cleaning your oven) and cook for 25-30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the melted cheese is lovely and golden.
13. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for a few minutes to let it all come together. Then serve.
This cauliflower cheese is gorgeous served with roast gammon, or roast lamb. It’s equally good served with sausages for a simple meal. Or just serve it as the main dish. It’s that good. Whatever you do, give it a go and let me know what you think 🙂