Broccoli is always one of the staple vegetables in my house, but lately I have found myself shifting to cauliflower for a bit of a change. Although they look relatively similar they taste quite different. Cauliflower is more milky and subtle in taste, and I’ve even enjoyed tearing off a floret, dipping it in houmous and eating it raw, whereas broccoli requires at least a little blanching. At the weekend I was rummaging in the fridge looking for lunch inspiration and spotted a cauliflower – cauliflower cheese it was going to be!
I’m a strange one when it comes to cheese with my veg. I love strong cheeses but not so much with veg. I still like to be able to taste the flavour of the vegetables as well as the cheese, so I decided that if I was going to make cauliflower cheese, each mouthful was going to have to have more depth to it than just ‘oh tastes like cheese.’
To add more depth of flavour I made a béchamel sauce with milk that I first infused with onion, bay leaves and nutmeg. After making the sauce I also whisked in some
mustard, which helped tone down the bite of the mature cheese. These simple steps add a wonderful aromatic richness to the dish and result in a multilayered flavoured sauce. Dijon
I used potato flour to thicken the sauce to make it gluten free – you will need a little less compared to wheat flours as its thick gloopy stuff! It was then simply a matter of pouring the thick creamy sauce over the raw florets of cauliflower, topping with a sprinkle of extra cheese and baking until golden brown. You can make one large one or smaller individual portions. Simple, satisfying and above all delicious.
Cauliflower Cheese (GF)
1 head cauliflower
1½ pints milk
1 small onion
2 bay leaves
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1½ tsp French Dijon mustard (check it's gluten free)
2 tbsp potato flour
100g cheddar cheese
Pour the milk into a saucepan. Cut the onion in half and remove the skin. Add to the milk along with the bay leaves and nutmeg. Heat gently and allow to come to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 200C
Melt the butter in a large saucepan before stirring in the potato flour to form a thick paste. Remove the onion and bay leaves from the milk (eat the onion it’s delicious!) and slowly add the milk to the butter-flour paste, a ladleful at a time, whisking constantly over the heat.
Keep whisking until the sauce thickens into a creamy pourable béchamel sauce, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the mustard and season with salt and pepper.
Grate the cheese and add most of it to the béchamel sauce, reserving a handful to sprinkle on top.
Cut the cauliflower into florets and arrange in either one large or 4 individual ovenproof dishes. Pour over the cheese sauce and scatter over the reserved handful of grated cheese.
Bake in the oven for 25minutes for individual dishes or 35-40 minutes for a larger one. It should be bubbling and lightly golden brown on top.
Serves 2-4 depending on if it’s a main meal or side dish.
Note: Don’t throw away the onion you used to flavour the milk. It will have poached into lovely sweet soft milky layers. Serve it with the cauliflower cheese or add it to a sandwich.