Quick and Easy British Cauliflower Cheese Recipe
Cauliflower Cheese: Easy Vegetarian Recipe in Just 10 Minutes
Cauliflower cheese is a traditional English dish that is both delicious and nourishing. I love this dish—it's so simple to make that even a beginner would find it easy.
It is nutritious, looks good and tastes delicious—comfort food at its finest. It can be used as a great vegetarian main course or as an accompaniment to other food.
In order to prevent it from becoming a bit mushy and strong-smelling while cooking, the secret is to only parcook, or partially cook, the cauliflower before pouring the sauce over it, because it will carry on cooking in the oven.
The Secret: Par-Cook the Cauliflower
The secret to this dish is not overcooking the caulifower. Cooking it for just 10 minutes will do nicely, so that it is still a bit hard when you remove it from the boiling water.
Assemble your equipment before starting:
- Large oven-proof dish
- Large saucepan
- Small saucepan, preferably non-stick
- Tablespoon for measuring
- Wooden spoon for mixing
- Cheese grater
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1/2 pound grated cheddar cheese
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 ounce butter
- 3/4 pint milk
- 1teaspoon mixed Herbs
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Pinch crushed chilli seeds or paprika
- 1/4 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 red pepper
- Wash the cauliflower and cut it up into florets. You can also use the leaves, cut small.
- Cover the cauliflower with water, and boil for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 7 (250).
- Then remove the partly cooked cauliflower from the water and put it in an oven-proof dish, retaining the water for later use.
- Meanwhile, whilst the cauliflower is boiling, melt the butter in a saucepan, preferably non-stick, over low heat.
- Add the flour, a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon, to make a roux (a thick paste). Keep stirring the mixture and pressing it against the side of the pan, to prevent lumps forming. Once you have made the roux, gradually add the milk, a very little at a time, stirring constantly to make a smooth paste, and squashing out the lumps. Keep stirring until you have added all the milk and it gradually thickens. If you are short of milk, you can use some of the water in which the cauliflower was boiled.
- Add most of the grated cheese, holding back about 1 tablespoonful, which will be used to sprinkle over the top in due course.
- Continue stirring, being careful to scrape the mixture from the bottom of the pan, as it will have a tendency to stick to the base and sides. When it comes to the boil, it should have the consistency of thick but not solid custard. If it is too thick, add a little of the vegetable water until it is slightly runny, but not sloppy. Whilst you are stirring, add herbs, salt and pepper to taste. If you like a slight tang, add a few chilli seeds or paprika (see photo). Remove the saucepan from the heat as soon as it has boiled.
- Mix any further optional vegetables (chopped onion, chopped garlic, and/or chopped red pepper) in with the cauliflower and then pour the sauce over it, covering all the cauliflower. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top.
- Place the oven-proof dish in the oven for about 20 minutes on the top shelf, until it is lightly browned.
- Then serve.
- You can choose whether you want the top to be pale brown as in the photo below, or darker brown like the one in the introductory photograph.
Variations and Additional Vegetables
The traditional dish is simply cauliflower cheese, but I frequently add leeks, and occasionally I add sliced lightly fried onion, courgette, kale, and/or broccoli—just whatever I have available or that needs to be used up.
Doctors Say We Should Eat at Least Five Pieces of Fruit or Vegetable a Day
So do you eat your five-a-day?
Video: Cheese Sauce
Questions & Answers
© 2010 Diana Grant