Homemade Cauliflower Cheese has to be right up there, on the list of all time comfort foods – right?
Fresh, creamy white florets of seasonal cauliflower, lightly steamed and smothered in a thick, nutmeg scented, cheese sauce. Like a fluffy duvet, or wood burning fire, it wraps you in its warm embrace and brings you home.
Many friends and family have said that Homemade Cauliflower Cheese reminds them of their childhood. I can understand why. It isn’t something I make, or eat that often, yet when the gooey cheese sauce intermingles with meaty gravy on my plate (yes I have both 😉) I am in food heaven.
With the current ongoing use of cauliflower as a carbohydrate replacement. Transforming those creamy florets into rice, pizza base, potato salad??? I kid you not, take a look on Pinterest. My Homemade Cauliflower Cheese could not be further from these carbohydrate substitute recipes.
Tender, baked cauliflower, covered in a homemade cheese sauce, is, for me one of the best ways to eat this delicious vegetable. Part of the brassica family, where cabbages, broccoli and brussel sprouts are its cousins, cauliflower has a slightly sweet flavour, not dissimilar to the thick leaves of white cabbage. Cooked properly its texture is dense and meaty, making it a filling vegetarian dish when served on its own.
My favourite way to eat and enjoy Homemade Cauliflower Cheese is with a roast dinner, or sausages and mash. I like the way the cheese sauce goes so well with proper gravy dinners, oh and it is unbelievably good with Yorkshire puddings.
Recipe: Homemade Cauliflower Cheese serves 4-6 as a side dish
1 large head of Cauliflower or 2 smaller ones
75g/3oz Unsalted Butter
75g/3oz Plain White Flour
150g/5.5oz Mature Cheddar Cheese – grated – hold back 2 tablespoons from adding to the sauce, for sprinkling over the assembled dish.
500ml Milk Whole or Semi Skimmed
1/4tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg – I buy Barts whole nutmegs and grate them myself on the coarse side of a box grater. The fresh flavour is incomparable with it’s pre-grated counterpart.
1/2tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Place the butter into a heavy bottomed saucepan and melt over a medium heat.
- Add in all the flour, stir for a couple of minutes so that the flour and butter become a bubbling paste (roux).
- Pour in roughly 100ml of the milk and stir vigorously. The flour, butter and milk will come together to form a thick clump.
- Add another 100mls of milk and keep stirring until all the milk is incorporated.
- Continue as before, adding the milk in 100ml quantities, stirring thoroughly. If you are worried that some lumps will not disappear simple switch to a balloon whisk.
- After adding all the milk, you will have a smooth, thick-ish white sauce.
- Add the pepper and nutmeg to the bechemel (white sauce) and stir thoroughly. I generally don’t add salt as the cheese tends to lend its saltiness to the final flavour, however, a quick taste check once the cheese has melted will allow you to adjust the seasonings.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and tip in the grated cheese. Stir until it is melted and you have a smooth cheese sauce.
- Prepare the cauliflower by cutting off most of the green leaves, breaking into florets, rinsing under a tap a and then steaming for no longer than 5 minutes.
- Place the steamed cauliflower florets into an oven proof dish and pour over the cheese sauce.
- Sprinkle over the reserved cheese, this gives the topping extra colour and gooey cheese!
- If this is made ahead, allow to cool, cover in tented foil, so that the topping doesn’t stick to it. The dish can be left on the side for a couple of hours, any longer simply pop it in the fridge, it will keep for up to 2 days.
- Bake the Homemade Cauliflower Cheese in an oven, preheated to 200C/180C fan, gas mark 6 for 30-40 minutes. It is baked when the top is golden and bubbling and a fork can pierce the base of a cauliflower floret.
- Once baked remove from the oven and serve.
Utterly delicious, tender cauliflower florets in a thick, cheesy sauce, ooh I love the colder months 😉.
Homemade Cauliflower Cheese also goes well with fish dishes, such as smoked haddock, or any firm, white fish, especially when served with mashed potatoes!
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As the nights draw in, I find comfort in warming, hearty food. That isn’t to say I don’t believe in balance, I absolutely do. On a day when we indulge in Homemade Cauliflower Cheese, we wouldn’t have dessert. That said we rarely do eat pudding, except perhaps on a Sunday, something I am working on!
Do you find that your appetite and desire for different foods changes with the seasons?
Whatever you are making, baking and creating in the kitchen, I love seeing photos on Twitter and Instagram, so please keep them coming. I also really enjoy reading your comments, thank you for taking the time to leave them, they are very much appreciated.