This whole roasted cauliflower cheese was inspired by a dish my mum cooked over Easter (hi mum! I can hear your squeals of delight from here!). It’s like your usual cauliflower cheese, but the cauliflower is roasted whole, rather than being chopped up into the sauce.
This is good for two main reasons.
Firstly, you need to use less cheese sauce. I know, I know, this sounds like a bad thing, but when you’re trying to eat a bit more healthily, a plateful of cheese sauce with a couple of token bits of cauliflower floating in it isn’t particularly acceptable, much as I would love it to be. This whole roasted cauliflower cheese has just enough cheese sauce that you feel like you’ve had something a bit naughty, without actually needing to entirely give up on your diet.
Secondly, you get the wonderful slightly-charred flavour of roasted cauliflower, rather than the cauliflower just boiling itself in the sauce. You know how obsessed with roasted cauliflower I am, so I love that the roasted flavour comes out in this recipe.
So basically, a whole roasted cauliflower is the best of both worlds: roasted cauliflower, and cauliflower cheese. It’s neither, and it’s both. And it’s delicious.
I’ll warn you now, the cauliflower does take a while to roast. You are sticking an entire vegetable in the oven, remember, so you can’t expect it to be done in twenty minutes. But, most of the cooking time is hands-off time, so don’t worry. Just pop it in an hour or two before your dinner needs to be served, and let it do its thing.
I actually went pretty easy on the cheese sauce this time, because I was desperate to use this little round baking dish, which fitted the cauliflower perfectly, but didn’t leave a huge amount of room for sauce. Again, I was happy with this, because there was just enough sauce to be tasty but not too heavy – but if you’re feeling indulgent, feel free to double the amount of sauce!
- 1 medium cauliflower
- 2 tsp oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 125 ml milk ~1/2 cup
- 75 g cheddar cheese ~1 cup grated, grated
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Black pepper
Heat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower, and cut off the end of the thick stalk, until you’re left with just the white head. Wash the cauliflower thoroughly and, once mostly dry, rub it lightly with oil. Place in a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for around 30 minutes.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a fairly low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring until smooth each time before adding more. Allow to cook over a fairly low heat for a couple more minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly, then add two thirds of the cheese, and mix until smooth. Season with a pinch of nutmeg and plenty of salt and black pepper.
Remove the cauliflower from the baking dish, and drain away any liquid.
Pour the cheese sauce into the baking dish, and replace the cauliflower on top. Add more salt and pepper if desired, then place in the oven, uncovered. Roast for a further 30 minutes, until slightly browned on top. Then, sprinkle over the remaining cheese, and return to the oven for 15 more minutes, until the cheese topping has melted and begun to crisp up.