Cauliflower cheese has always been a big favourite in the Oliver household. I have to be honest, it’s such a staple I never thought I could do it better, but this version really has the edge, with broccoli mushed into the white sauce and the beautiful crunch of almonds and breadcrumbs on top – it’s epic! Good value frozen broccoli and cauliflower are perfect for this kind of cooking, and remember, the better the cheese, the better the dish.
8 as a side
1 hour 35 minutes
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 50g unsalted butter
- 50g plain flour
- 500ml semi-skimmed milk
- 500g fresh or frozen broccoli
- 75g mature Cheddar cheese
- 1kg fresh or frozen cauliflower
- 2 slices of ciabatta or stale bread
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 25g flaked almonds
- olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Peel and finely slice the garlic and put it into a medium pan on a medium heat with the butter. When the butter has melted, stir in the flour for a minute to make a paste, then gradually add the milk, whisking as you go, until lovely and smooth. Add the broccoli
(cut up first, if using fresh) and simmer for around 20 minutes, or until the broccoli is cooked through and starts to break down, then mash or blitz with a stick blender (adding an extra splash of milk to loosen, if using fresh broccoli). Grate in half the Cheddar and season to perfection.
Arrange the cauliflower in an appropriately sized baking dish (cut into florets first, if using fresh), pour over the broccoli white sauce and grate over the remaining Cheddar. Blitz the bread into breadcrumbs in a food processor, then pulse in the thyme leaves and almonds. Toss with a lug of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, then scatter evenly over the cauliflower cheese. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden and cooked through, then enjoy!
It’s really good fun to play around with different cheeses in this dish and how they taste and melt. It’s also nice to try different veg instead of cauliflower – for instance, 2–3cm chunks of celeriac, squash, potatoes or leeks would all work a treat. Have a play and see what your favourites are – some veg might take longer to cook than others, so test with a knife to check they’re cooked through before serving.