I like cauliflower. I like it simply steamed with a bit of fresh Pecorino Romano grated on top. Unfortunately, the husband and son do not see the pretty white floret in the same light as I do, so I usually end up only eating it when we are Not At Home. I don't like buying the frozen packages of cauliflower in a "cheese" sauce, which is one way they will eat the thing. So I searched about and found that a traditional English dish called Cauliflower Cheese was often used in the same way that Americans use Mac n' Cheese - either a side dish or as a main dish. So, by focusing on a high quality mature cheese instead of a "cheese product" sauce, I thought maybe I could make it the way they like it AND make me happier.
If you want to know things like nutrition facts, click here. If not, just eat and enjoy.
1 large cauliflower - make sure you get a nice looking fresh one, organic if you can
1 1/4 cup milk - I used fat free, but you can use low fat or whole fat as you choose. I set the nutrition facts for low fat.
8 oz good aged cheddar cheese - I used Tillamook brand
3 T flour
4 T butter
1/2 cup breadcrumbs - fresh is best but you can use the stuff that comes in a round box if you like
1/2 t good quality dried mustard such as Colman's or Watkin's (that's what I used)
1/8 t nutmeg
black pepper to taste - you can salt, but cheese has so much sodium there really is no need to add extra salt, besides too much salt is simply not good for most of us
optional - a tiny touch of paprika
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Meanwhile, rinse and trim the cauliflower, break the pieces into small florets that are bite sized. You can either boil them in water for about 10 minutes (only JUST to the point of being tender) or you can steam them, or microwave them. Any method is fine.
Drain the cauliflower into a colander and then put them into a buttered 2 quart casserole dish.
Now you will make the sauce. First put the butter into a medium sauce pan and melt, when it is bubbly, add the flour and mix quickly until the flour is incorporated into the butter. Then add the milk in a slow stream, stirring constantly. Continue to stir constantly and allow to thicken and come to a boil. The mix should be smooth. If it's not it means you did not stir constantly, shame on you for ignoring the sauce! Simmer the sauce for two minutes.
Add about 3/4 of the cheese, the mustard, nutmeg and pepper and cook until the cheese melts (about a minute or so). Pour the entire thing over the cauliflower. No need to stir. Then, mix the rest of the cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle all over the top. Here is where you could add a touch of paprika if you like.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until it's golden brown and bubbling.
Serve right away as either a main dish or a side. Absolutely delicious!