The Best Cauliflower Cheese

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 3.23.11 PMBy Teresa Cutter. Cauliflower was often served at our Polish dinner table when I was growing up. Mum used to steam it lightly, then sauté in her cast iron pan with day old bread-crumbs and generous amounts of butter. Mum would also make the yummiest Parmesan laced béchamel that she would generously spoon over steamed cauliflower florets, then bake until golden with crispy edges, for the ultimate cauliflower cheese.

These days I’m still in love with cauliflower. I am constantly trying to create new and interesting ways I can enjoy this humble vegetable that is blessed with super powers and goodness. In salads, in soups, thrown into hot pots or roasted until crispy golden with caramelised onions.

Now that it’s winter, I love to make cauliflower cheese. It’s so easy to make using steamed cauliflower as the base, and when combined with ricotta, it gives a creamy result every time. For a richer flavour, you can add some grated parmesan, a decadent white sauce or add other boosters such as pumpkin, leek, or fennel.

What’s Great About It:

Cauliflower
Like cabbage and other members of the cruciferous family, cauliflower is a good source of the cancer-fighting agents known as glucosinolates. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, C, K, fibre, folate and potassium. It’s also rich in sulphur that works as an anti-inflammatory, support digestion and boost your immune system.

Ricotta
Contains protein to help build and maintain muscle, as well as nourish the immune system.  It’s also a good source of calcium for strong bones as well as tryptophan, which helps produce the relaxing hormone, serotonin.

Serves 6

1 medium head of cauliflower
1 leek, washed and sliced
500 g (17  1/2 oz) ricotta
180 – 250 ml (6  1/4 oz – 8  3/4 oz) milk (your choice dairy, soy, rice, almond)
30 g (1  oz) grated Parmesan or Pecorino
Pinch of nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 180 C (350 F / Gas 4).
Cut cauliflower into flowerets and place into a large pot.
Add 1/2 cup (4  1/2 oz) water, cover with a lid and steam for 5 minutes or until just tender, but not over cooked.
Saute the leek for 5 minutes over a medium heat in a little olive oil until soft.
Place the cauliflower and leek into an oven proof baking dish.
Combine ricotta, half of the milk and a little nutmeg and blend until smooth.
Add more milk until you achieve a smooth, cream like consistency.
Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and leek then sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.
Serve immediately and enjoy.

NOTES:
To make a dairy free / Paleo style white sauce, use a creamy style milk such as almond, coconut or organic soy.
Alternatively, cook 1-2 leeks until soft in a little olive oil, combine into a blender with 80 g raw cashew nuts and 500 ml your choice of dairy free milk + a little nutmeg.