Since the Autumn I’ve been buying Cauliflower every week to make baby purees. Let’s take this cool season vegetable a step or two beyond good old cauliflower cheese and highlight the delicious, naturally sweet, and versatile flavour of cauliflower.
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Leek and Bacon
This was the easiest way to re-introduce cauliflower into our eldest son’s diet. This simple and light version of mac and cheese is delicious hot, and also cold in lunchboxes. It has become both dinner staple and next day favourite. This makes 6 generous serves,
500g pack of pasta, like macaroni, spiral or penne
5 thick rashers of bacon or speck
½ a cauliflower
1 large Leek
200g swiss cheese, grated
200g tasty cheese, grated plus a couple handfuls extra reserved
Salt and pepper
½ a grated nutmeg
- Start by cooking the pasta as per usual, but make sure it is al dente or a little firmer than you usually cook it and not soft, because the pasta cooks further in the sauce. Drain pasta and replace the large pot on the stove; you’re going to use it again. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
- Slice bacon into small pieces. Thinly slice leek. Add a tablespoon of oil to your cooking pot and bring back to heat. Saute bacon and leek until the leek has softened and the bacon fat is starting to colour.
- Chop cauliflower into small pieces about 2cm wide and add to the bacon and leek mixture. Cook for 4 minutes and then remove from heat. Pour this mixture into a large 3 litres casserole or ceramic baking dish.
- Rinse out the pot and add the butter. Place on medium heat.
- When the butter is beginning to foam and froth, add the flour and stir briskly to combine. When the flour and butter mixture has bubbled for at least 1 minute and the flour is cooked off, add the milk and whisk to combine.
- Leave this on low-medium heat, whisking occasionally to make sure the sauce thickens evenly and doesn’t burn on the bottom. When the béchamel has thickened and boiled for 2 minutes, remove from heat and whisk through grated cheese. Add grated nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper to taste. You want this sauce a little strong tasting right now, before it bakes together with the pasta. If you prefer more cheese, add this now.
- Add the pasta to the bacon, leek and cauliflower in the dish and stir to combine. Pour the sauce over the top and stir; make sure there are no pockets of pasta uncovered by sauce.
- Top with the reserved tasty cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown. Serve immediately. A little side salad doesn’t hurt.
2. Cauliflower Puree
This is better than mashed potato. It goes insanely well with a beef stew or roast.
1 whole cauliflower (about 1kg)
2 garlic cloves
Small knob of butter
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil on high. Remove leaves and cut cauliflower into 8-10 pieces. Add cauliflower to water. Peel garlic cloves and add to water.
- Cook for 20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Drain and return to saucepan.
- Add butter and mash until smooth or puree in blender or food processor. Sprinkle with parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Serve.
3. Whole Roasted Cauliflower
This impressive cauliflower dish serves 6 people.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head cauliflower
1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons paprika
Zest of one lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius. Grease a baking tray with olive oil.
2. Remove green leaves and the hard part of the stem from the cauliflower.
3. Get a small bowl and add the yogurt with the paprika and lemon zest, a teaspoon salt and pepper.
4. Use a pastry brush or a hand, pick up the cauliflower and cover it with the yogurt dressing
5. Put the cauliflower on tray and place in the oven. Roast until the crust is dry and golden brown, for about 30 minutes.
6. Cool for 15 minutes before cutting into wedges and serve. Nice with a big salad.
4. Cauliflower Popcorn Bites
1 head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive or rice bran oil
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
- Remove the outer leaves and hard stem part of the cauliflower and cut into bite size pieces.
- In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower pieces with spices and oil.
- Spread the cauliflower in one layer on the baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes. Toss it around to expose un-crispsed surfaces and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
5. MamaBake’s Cauliflower Pizza Base
If you’re new to Mamabake you may not have seen this completely brilliant, absolutely genius recipe. It is low carb and gluten free are far tastier than your average pizza base. Follow the link and give it a go. One of the most wonderful uses for a cauliflower you will ever find.