Have you had a whole baked cauliflower cheese?
Roasting the cauliflower brings out its natural flavour, making it nutty and much more tasty than boiling or steaming.
This is so much easier then boiling or steaming, as the oven does all the hard work and there's no chopping or draining to do.
The cheese sauce is my cheats' version too. It's made in minutes and is completely foolproof. There won't be a lump in sight, I promise.
Perfect for a vegetarian supper or a side dish. I love it with my Sunday roast.
Cauliflower can be a really bland vegetable, so I always like to serve it with a white sauce or a cheese sauce.
The trouble is that cauliflower holds so much water. So, when you cook it, the warm it with the cheese sauce, it can have a tendency to leech water into the sauce and make it a runny mess.
With a whole baked cauliflower , you don't have that problem. What you do get is a reallt tender and tasty cauliflower, without all of the labourious chopping, boiling and never ending draining.
And, if you are wary of making a white or cheese sauce, fear not. My cheats cheese sauce comes together in minutes. In fact, it was the first thing I taught my son to make, so he wouldn't starve at university!
This is a really comforting dish. Great for vegetarians and great as a side dish.
Even better, if you have any leftovers, it reheats beautifully!
Why you will love this recipe
- Easy sauce - great for other dishes too.
- Very little preparation.
- No precooking required.
- Pure comfort food.
- Delicious nutty taste that's not watery.
- Cauliflower - whole medium cauliflower, untrimmed with leaves intact.
- Butter - unsalted butter for the sauce.
- Flour - all purpose or plain flour.
- Milk - any milk. I always use semi skimmed and the sauce is still really creamy due to the cheese.
- Cheese - mature cheddar cheese coarsley grated, for a rich tang. This cheese is naturally quite salty, so seasons the sauce.
- Chives - washed and freshly chopped. Optional, but great in a white or cheese sauce.
- Pepper - freshly ground black pepper.
- Nutmeg - freshly grated - a must for white sauce.
- Mustard - Dijon mustard.
- Oil - olive oil, no need for virgin.
- Salt - cooking salt.
The recipe card with ingredient quantities and detailed instructions can be found at the bottom of the post
- large casserole dish with lid
- sharp knife
- chopping board
- pastry brush
First prepare the cauliflower.
Simply trim the stalk at the base so that the cauliflower can sit evenly upright in a casserole dish.
Trim off any old outer leaves and leave the rest intact but trimming them so that they come halfway up the cauliflower.
Make a deep cross in the base for even cooking. Brush the cauliflower top with oil and sprinkle over half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper.
💭 Top Tip
- Like broccoli, the stalt of the cauliflower is totally edible, so there is no need to cut it away and discard it, especially when vegetables are expensive. Equally the stalt holds the cauliflower shape, so is needed for cooking.
⏲️ Baking Time
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / 160 FAN / Gas 4.
Place a lid on the casserole dish or cover tightly with foil.
Make sure that the lid is not touching the cauliflower or it may burn.
Bake for 1 hour and then remove the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes.
Insert a skewer to make sure that the cauliflower is cooked all the way through.
While the cauliflower is cooking make the sauce.
Put the milk, flour and butter into a saucepan.
💭 Top Tip
- For less clearing up weigh the butter and flour directly into the saucepan. It's even easier to pour the milk in first if you have a calibrated saucepan.
Turn on a medium heat and start whisking straight away.
Whisk continuously until the butter has melted. As the mixture comes to a simmer it will start to thicken.
Keep whisking until it is smooth and thick then turn off the heat.
Add 100g (3.5 ounces), of the cheese, freshly ground black pepper, mustard and a few grates of nutmeg.
I don't tend to add salt at this stage as mature cheddar tends to have a salty flavour.
Stir the mixture until the cheese has melted.
Check the seasoning and add more if necessary.
When the cauliflower is cooked pour over the cheats cheese sauce.
Sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Increase the oven heat to 200 C / 400 F / 180 FAN / Gas 6.
This makes a great centrepiece as you can cut wedges to serve, which stay intact on the plate.
The leaves are slightly charred and are delicious eaten with the whole baked cauliflower cheese.
🥗 Side Dishes
This whole baked cauliflower cheese is delicious on its own but it goes really well with roast and pan fried meats.
Here are a few ideas from my favourites.
- Beef Olives
- Slow Cooker Brisket
- Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder
- Simple Roast Gammon
- Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole
- Roast Rib of Beef
- Picanha Beef
- Pheasant and Venison Casserole
- Turkey and Ham Pie
- Spider Steak with Tarragon Butter
- Savoury Mince
- Cheddar - if you don't have cheddar try emmental, gouda or mozzarella. If you only have very mild cheese then adding some Parmesan will increase the cheesy flavour.
- Butter - swap the butter for baking spread. Low fat spreads won't work as they are mostly water.
- Chives - use some chopped fresh parsley or scatter over some finely sliced spring onions.
- Make it a meal - add some cooked chop bacon or sliced sausages on top of the cheese sauce.
- White sauce - omit the cheese and leave plain or add some paprika
- Refrigerator - cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Freezer - place leftovers in portions in sealed containers and refrigerate up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
- To reheat - put in an oven proof dish and cover with foil in the oven at 200 C / 400 F / 180 FAN / Gas 6 until piping hot.
🍱 Prepare in Advance
- Cook the cauliflower in advance and cool and refrigerate the day before serving. Reheat in the oven then add the sauce. Keep the lid on to stop it from drying out.
This is ususally because the sauce has been overheated. If the oven is too hot and the sauce is heated for too long, it can start to separate.
It's easier to warm the sauce in the pan and pour over the whole baked cauliflower and cook for a short amount of time.
More side dishes to try
- Cavolo Nero Kale
- Easy Roast Potatoes
- Yorkshire Pudding
- Roast Savoy Cabbage
- Celeriac Mash
- Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Casserole
- Duchess Potatoes
- Roast Swede Chips
- Honey Roast Carrots and Parsnips
Whole Baked Cauliflower Cheese
- large casserole dish with lid
- Sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Pastry brush
- 1 kg cauliflower 1 medium
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt cooking
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
For the sauce
- 50 g butter
- 50 g flour plain/ all purpose
- 500 ml semi skimmed milk
- 130 g cheddar grated
- 2 tablespoon chives
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- grated nutmeg to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Trim the stalk at the base so that the cauliflower can sit evenly upright in a casserole dish. Cut off any old outer leaves and leave the rest but trimmed so that they come halfway up the cauliflower.
- Make a deep cross in the base for even cooking. Brush the cauliflower top with oil, sprinkle over half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / 160 FAN / Gas 4.
- Place a lid on the casserole dish or cover tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour and then remove the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes. Insert a skewer to make sure that the cauliflower is cooked all the way through.
For the cheese sauce
- Put the milk, flour and butter into a saucepan. Turn on a medium heat and start whisking straight away. Whisk continuously until the butter has melted. Keep whisking until it is smooth and thick then turn off the heat.
- Add 100g (3.5 ounces), of the cheese, freshly ground black pepper, mustard and a few grates of nutmeg. Stir the mixture until the cheese has melted. Check the seasoning and add more if necessary.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
- Increase the oven heat to 200 C / 400 F / 180 FAN / Gas 6.
- Cook for another 20 minutes until golden and bubbling.
- Sprinkle over the chives and serve.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article
More side dishes
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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