Is it just me or is cauliflower really, really expensive? I sort of don’t want to pay an average of $3 for a half a head at the supermarket. I really, really love a cheesy cauliflower bake but rarely buy it because I can’t justify the price!
Recently I got a half-head the size of a tennis ball* in a box of mixed fruit and veg, so I decided to make my old favourite. This, cauliflower soup and roasted cauliflower are the only ways I’m interested in eating it, so I was excited to have it again. The only problem was I had to mix it with broccoli to get enough for one baking dish, but as far as problems go, that’s a pretty good one.
I had a collection of bread ends floating about in my freezer in case I ever needed to make breadcrumbs in an emergency one day, and so far that has been pretty much never. I toasted them because I didn’t have the time to leave them dry overnight, and figured it was easier and faster than putting them in the oven. I thought a crunchy half-rye half-wholegrain topping would be a nice addition, and if anyone in the family needed a boost in the fibre department… well suffer no more! If anything, it was a good cheese-holder.
Soak in the lovely photograph <extreme sarcasm alert> (well, what you can actually see of the cauliflower anyway… it’s like playing “Where’s Wally?”), because it’ll probably be a while til you see it again!
Serves 4 as a side dish.
half head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 medium head broccoli, broken into florets
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespons milk
2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1 smidge of grated nutmeg
1 handful grated cheese
salt and pepper
about 6 slices of dry bread, whizzed in food processor
a mix of cheddar and parmesan for the topping
1. Steam florets for 3-4 minutes until soft.
2. Make a bechamel sauce by melting the butter over medium heat and adding flour. Stir 1 minute.
3. Pour in the milk, add the bay leaf and nutmeg, and whisk until mixture comes to the boil and thickens. Everyone has their own way of doing this, but I get impatient having it on super-low and I’ve never had a lumpy sauce in my life. It’s up high, I dump the cold milk in all at once and whisk my life away. But if living dangerously ain’t your thing, take it slow.
4. Add salt, pepper and cheese. Remove bay leaf.
5. Drain florets and place in baking dish. Pour sauce over and stir to mix. Scatter breadcrumbs and then cheese over and bake 20 mins in a 180C oven.
6. If you like the top extra brown and crispy, put under a very hot grill for 5 mins or so. Keep an eye on it!
*slight exaggeration. Not much.