Serves 3 as a main course or 4 as a side dish (or 6 if everyone is on a diet)
This dish is cheesy and creamy and rich and, of course, vegetarian. I like to serve it with roasted new potatoes for a perfect dinner. But it works as an accompaniment to just about anything!
1 large cauliflower
1ltr whole milk
200g strong cheddar cheese, roughly grated
Roughly grated parmesan
Break the cauliflower into florets and cut away any hard stems. Cut larger florets in half so that they are all a similar size – they will cook more evenly that way. Rinse under running water. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add the cauliflower, cover and simmer until just soft, approx. 20 minutes. Don’t overcook the cauliflower or the final dish will be sloppy. Once the cauliflower is cooked, drain it and tip it into an oven-proof dish large enough to hold the florets in a single layer.
Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Place the butter, flour and milk in a large thick-based saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, whisking continuously with a balloon whisk. Allow the sauce to simmer uncovered very gently for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in the cheddar cheese a handful at a time. Once the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth, pour it evenly over the cauliflower. Sprinkle a generous amount of parmesan over the surface and then dust it liberally with paprika.
At this stage the dish can be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed. To reheat, pop it into the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until it is brown and bubbling.