Say cauliflower cheese!
01 October 2012
Cauliflower appears to have lost its mojo, that certain je ne sais quoi that it had in spades around the 70’s.
Now that was a time when cauliflower cheese was on everyone’s lips, literally. However, according to recent research, nearly half of British households didn't buy a single cauliflower last year. It seems this humble English vegetable has become rather unsexy in the eyes of the everyday consumer as of late.
But the fantastic news is this: Children love cauliflower cheese! This simple dish is easy to whip up on a busy school night, and can be served to the starving hordes as soon as they arrive home - exhausted and ravenous from school.
Creating a diverse array of straightforward, healthy and quick recipes for your children is a laborious never-ending mission that can be difficult to achieve at times. And I am not of the school where you cook bland food for your offspring and more enticing dishes for the adults. Who can be bothered with that everyday?
Knocking out a good, uncomplicated meal at the drop of a hat can seem impossible, but cauliflower cheese manages to achieve this job.
Creamy and filling with fantastic value, this vegetarian option is divine when topped with crispy breadcrumbs drenched in olive oil.
Serve it straight from the oven with a heap of hot, sweet buttered petit-pois or a pile of crunchy, fresh salad leaves finished with a French dressing.
A pint of organic full-fat milk
A knob of butter
A tablespoon of organic plain flour
A plateful of grated mature cheddar
A pinch of English mustard powder or a half a teaspoon of any other mustard – I recommend Dijon whole-grain
Salt and pepper
Turn your oven on to 190.
Put some water in a deep saucepan and bring to a simmer. Drop in the cauliflower florets and any other vegetables you’re using. Simmer until the cauliflower is just tender – about ten minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. When it’s melted, whisk in the flour – to make a roux – it will seem lumpy. Put the pan back on a low heat and slowly add the milk while whisking. Eventually you will have a beautiful béchamel sauce.
Keep the béchamel on a low heat and add the cheese, the pinch of mustard and a good grinding of pepper and salt, stirring gently to allow the cheese to melt.
Place your vegetables in a baking dish and smother with the rich sauce.
Rub two slices of day-old wholemeal bread between your hands to make some breadcrumbs – sprinkle the crumbs on top of the cheese sauce. Liberally drizzle olive oil over the breadcrumbs and place the dish into the oven.
Leave the dish in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Serve with hot buttered petit pois or a green salad.
By Hannah Newton
Images by Rich Stapleton