Cauliflower Cheese

Not that I’m a carb prude, but I really enjoy packing nutrition and creating healthier versions of my favorite comfort foods. However, when it’s cold, much like it is today, I want nothing more than to be soothed. Nutrition or no.

My two-year old is on a huge macaroni and cheese kick lately and I have been feeling desperate to get him to eat something other than the foods that are golden: fried foods, cheesy foods, starchy foods. Oh, the plight of all toddler mothers!

Mind you, I am an avid believer that if you’re cooking at home, it’s good for you. It nourishes us in so many ways. But I am also feeling nostalgia for the days when my child would eat the food mixes I put together for him in his Baby Bullet from our meals without complaint.

About a year ago, while watching a re-run of Downton Abbey, I discovered a recipe for Cauliflower Cheese and realized it’s an incredibly trendy way to eat this beautiful winter vegetable. However, it’s also incredibly classic and easy-peasy to put together.

First, separate the cauliflower into florets and parboil for a only few minutes, until the cauliflower is slightly tender but still firm. Drain and spread into a buttered casserole dish.

Grate about a cup of sharp cheddar cheese (I usually- no, always- use more) into a bowl and set aside.

Now, make a roux: warm the milk in a small saucepan (but don’t let it boil!). Add the grated nutmeg, salt, and cayenne pepper. Meanwhile, melt the butter into a saucepan and add the flour to make a thick paste. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, or until you can’t smell the rawness of the flour. Add the milk in a steady stream and whisk energetically. Fold in the cheese and chopped herbs.

Next, pour the sauce over the cauliflower and sprinkle with some prepared bread crumbs.

Bake, uncovered, for about 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until golden on top.

This dish is perfect paired with a Sunday ham, green beans, and baked rolls…or a salad, if you’re sticking to your resolutions!

Now we have a good recipe to turn to on those cold evenings when only the best of comfort food will suffice and one that will let the little ones eat to their cheesy contentment. Both a huge win.

Cauliflower Cheese
serves 6

1 head of cauliflower, washed
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
a pinch of grated nutmeg
a pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of chopped fresh herbs (I usually like thyme, oregano and/or parsley)
1/3 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Separate the cauliflower into florets and parboil for a only few minutes, until the cauliflower is slightly tender but still firm. Drain and spread into a buttered casserole dish.

Grate the cheddar cheese into a bowl and set aside.

Now, make a roux: warm the milk in a small saucepan (but don’t let it boil!). Add the grated nutmeg, salt, and cayenne pepper. Meanwhile, melt the butter into a saucepan and add the flour to make a thick paste. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, or until you can’t smell the rawness of the flour. Add the milk in a steady stream and whisk energetically. Fold in the cheese and chopped herbs.

Next, pour the sauce over the cauliflower and sprinkle with some prepared bread crumbs.

Bake, uncovered, for about 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until golden on top. Serve warm.

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