This dish is like comforting mac and cheese, but it’s better for you because there’s vegetables, right? It’s creamy, cheesy and the Parmesan cheese makes it deliciously nutty.
The topping, which is extra cheese, is the best part of the dish when it’s browned and bubbly and develops a fabulous crust.
The dish starts with a simple béchamel sauce. Butter is melted and mixed with flour, then warm milk is whisked in along with mustard powder and grated Parmesan cheese.
This silky and delicious sauce and worth licking the spoon for. Cooked cauliflower florets are mixed in; more Parmesan is sprinkled on top and the dish is broiled to golden cheese perfection.
This is a classic and easy British side dish that dates to the 1800s. Isabella Beeton was a cookbook writer from the Victorian era and her book, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, was her biggest success, published in 1861.
The book was filled with information on running a Victorian household like etiquette, childcare, entertaining, the management of servants and recipes. It was Mrs Beeton’s How to Cook book that first featured this cauliflower cheese recipe.
Interestingly, she used Parmesan instead of English cheddar cheese. That is quite un-British of her, but it is not lacking in flavor because anything with Parmesan cheese is perfect in my book.
You’re probably looking at this dish and thinking, “What makes this so British?” And you’re right. There’s nothing decidedly British about this dish at all, this looks like a dish served on every dinner table in the Western world.
Well, for the Brits, it’s all about the history and since it’s been around for almost 200 years we’ve claimed it as our own.
This dish is not only popular served alongside a roast meat and potatoes Sunday dinner; it is now popular as packaged baby food in a pureed form. This does go to show we do love our cauliflower cheese, from young to old!
Cauliflower Cheese Recipe
- 1.5 Cauliflower florets
- 1 Salt plus 1 teaspoon
- 4 Unsalted Butter
- 3 All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Whole Milk hot
- 3.5 Parmesan Cheese grated
- 0.5 Mustard Powder
- 0.25 Black Pepper
- Add 3 quarts (12 cups) water to a boil in a large saucepan. Once boiling add 1 tablespoon salt and cauliflower.
- Cook the cauliflower for 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat broiler.
- To a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. When melted, whisk in the flour until well mixed. Cook for 1 minute, whisking.
- Slowly pour in the milk while whisking. Continue to whisk until thickened and there are no lumps.
- Stir in 2/3 of the Parmesan cheese, mustard powder, salt and pepper.
- Stir in the cauliflower until well coated.
- Transfer to a baking dish and top with the remaining cheese.
- Broil for 4-5 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.