500ml semi-skimmed milk
80g white flour
tsp mustard (any sort)
Salt and pepper
150g cheddar cheese
Prep to Cook: Medium pan, jug and grater and sauce-making pan, wooden spoon and jug, plate and chopping board
1. Prep the cauli:
Trim the green leaves off the cauliflower
Place the whole cauliflower in a pan
Add about 150 ml cold water and put a lid on the pan!
This keeps the smell in – that’s why I usually make cauli-gratin earlier in the day and re-heat it!
Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes. OR put in covered bowl and cook in microwave on high for 6 – 8 minutes
Test the cauliflower by stabbing with a sharp knife
If the knife goes through easily it is ready. Turn off heat, drain the cauli and put in serving dish
2. Prep the sauce:
In a non-stick pan melt the margarine
Remove from the heat
Stir in the flour and when it is mixed in add some, about a tablespoon of the milk
Put the pan back on the hob and gradually add remaining milk
Stir constantly to keep the mixture smooth and lump free
Boil the sauce then turn off the heat and mix in the mustard and seasoning
3. Prep the cheese:
Grate the cheese on a medium to large grater onto a plate
(ready-grated is quicker and easier but it contains additives)
4. Prep to go:
Put the cauliflower in a deep oven-proof dish – mop up any water with kitchen roll
Pour over the rich smooth sauce
Cover the whole top with grated cheese
This can wait in the fridge until needed and then be re-heated ( or you can freeze this!)
Place in the oven on 190C or Gas 5 until the cheese is golden and crisp. Alternately use combi-microwave with grill.
Cauli-gratin is a winter delight. Cauliflowers are sometimes under £1 and with the cheese and a sauce this can make a wonderful tea time meal served with thick buttered toast. Alternately it makes the perfect accompaniment for a roast. A good one never disappoints!
You can substitute the cauliflower and use courgettes sliced lengthwise, or celery. If you have to select a dish for vegetarian then this makes a good main course.
Vegetables are a healthy choice and fat-free. A rich cheese sauce adds protein, calcium and vitamins and minerals making the veggie dish a real meal.
Cooks Know How: You will now be able to make that roux sauce you thought you never could. You will recognise how much you have to stir a sauce to keep it smooth. White sauce relies on the cooking of starch grains. As you heat them in the liquid milk the starch grains swell and gradually burst, thickening the liquid. You need to bring the sauce to the boil because otherwise some starch grains may remain uncooked and would make the sauce taste raw. You can now make a vegetable into a wholesome meal and make the food budget go further. You can see how cheese makes a crunchy and golden topping and improve a ‘white vegetable’ such as cauliflower.
Try changing the veg and make the sauce again, it will seems easier. Courgettes, leeks or simply boiled onions all work well with a rich cheese sauce. Put streaky bacon over the top of the cheese and grill until crisp ( non-veggie version)