Sunday 8 February 2015

Pimped Up Cauliflower Cheese

I defy anyone to not like cauliflower cheese. Especially my luxe 'pimped up' cauliflower cheese. I hear you ask why...well I'll tell ya. First off the cauliflower is roasted to get rid of all that unwanted sogginess. Next the addition of broccoli. Garlic in the white sauce. Then we have leeks, pancetta and 3 cheeses. Not forgetting that crunchy, golden 'breadcrumbiness' topping! 

I feel like it's the best way to end the week off by making this on a lazy Sunday morning. It takes a little extra effort and time, but at the weekend - who cares? I had this for my Sunday lunch (it's allowed since there's the addition of other make it what I call a proper meal!)  But I suppose you could have it as a side to serve more. 

I used my oh so favourite falcon pie dish, which I think we can safely say is having a bit of a retro revival at the minute! It's the 16cm size, which is perfect for a generous single portion. If you had a few of these - in total it would definitely serve 4. And who doesn't love their own individual dish to tuck into?! Or you can be normal and just save on washing up, and use one massive baking dish.

If you're a vegetarian, sorry! I seem to have messed up YOUR go-to meal. But perhaps if you're feeling the need to try something a little different, (as let's be honest I think you probably get bored of this well-known vegetarian staple) then why not substitute the pancetta for porcini mushrooms? 

Cauliflower cheese has got to be in my top 3 ultimate comfort foods and every once in a while it's perfectly acceptable to indulge yourself. So go on!!


(serves 4-5 as a main)

1 large cauliflower (about 600g of small florets)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 medium broccoli (about 250g of small florets)
1 knob of butter
3 medium leeks (about 350g finely chopped)
170g pancetta
170g mature cheddar cheese
30g smoked cheese
2 cloves of garlic
50g plain flour
50g butter
500ml semi-skimmed milk
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
20g flaked almonds
2 slices of stale white bread
20g parmesan cheese
a small handful of fresh thyme leaves


Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ gas 6. Prepare your cauliflower into small even sized florets. Spread out onto a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss the cauliflower in the oil and then bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes (be careful the cauliflower doesn't burn, you may need to turn them over halfway through roasting). 

Next prepare your broccoli into even sized, small florets and steam them for 15-20 minutes. Next finely slice the leek and melt a knob of butter in a frying pan over a low heat. Sweat the leeks for about 15 minutes in the melted butter, stirring occasionally. While the leeks cook, chop your pancetta into small pieces and add to the frying pan with the sweated down leeks, turn up to a high heat and continually stir for about 7-10 minutes so that the leeks have reduced and the pancetta is beginning to go crispy. 

Grate the cheddar and smoked cheese ready to add to your white sauce. Peel and grate your garlic. Heat the milk up first so that it is just hot (you can do this in a microwave), melt the 50g of butter in preferably a non-stick saucepan, once melted quickly add the flour along with the grated garlic and cook it on a high heat for about 1 minute, it will clump together to form a soft, shiny ball. Next add your milk, little by little, stirring after each addition continuously with a wooden spoon to ensure no lumps. Once all the milk has been added, season with black pepper and nutmeg. Turn down to a medium heat and slowly add the grated cheese, reserving a handful for the topping, stir until all the cheese has melted. Take off the heat. 

Change your oven temperature to 180°C/ 350°F/ gas 4 once the cauliflower has roasted. 

Now you are ready to assemble, first place the roasted cauliflower and steamed broccoli in the base of your baking dish. Scatter over the leeks and bacon, then pour over the cheese sauce. Now to make the topping, blitz the parmesan, bread slices, flaked almonds and thyme leaves in a food processor and then scatter over the cauliflower cheese.  Sprinkle over the remaining grated cheddar and smoked cheese and then bake in the oven for 20-25  minutes until golden and the topping is crispy. Best served hot, can be reheated for a delicious leftover supper the following day!


  1. LOVE cauliflower cheese, this looks like such a great way of jazzing it up a little... and let's face it, leeks and pancetta make pretty much all things better :)

    Persephone -

  2. Oh my golly this sounds amazing, cauli cheese is just the perfect comfort food.
    Coleoftheball xx