Monday, 5 August 2019

Whole cauliflower cheese

Cauliflower cheese is such a great side dish for a roast dinner! It was always part of my mum's roast dinners and she sometimes made extra for us to walk over to the kitchen of our neighbour.  We still have family roast dinners.  These days it is often my sister making us gluten free cauliflower cheese.  It is always popular.  So I decided to make cauliflower cheese for our recent Christmas in July lunch.

Usually I chop the cauliflower cheese before pouring cheese sauce over it but it seemed a good shortcut to leave the cauliflower whole and an impressive way to serve it.  Whole cauliflowers seem to be more trendy in recent years and I am not alone in making my cauliflower cheese this way.

I could claim that I am more unique in making my cheese sauce with coconut milk.  Not coconut milk out of a tin but a coconut milk that was made as an alternative to dairy milk and was incredibly watery.  Actually, I only used it because Sylvia had decided she wanted to try it and only needed a mouthful or two to decided she had had her fill of it.  So I probably would not use them milk again but it does show that you can use all kinds of milk here.

No matter how often I make cheese sauce, it is always a relief to see the lumpy roux turn into a creamy mixture when I add the milk.  It often seems so unlikely that it might be a miracle it works.  Of course it is not miracle.  Just a lot of rigourous stirring! 

The downside of using a whole cauliflower rather than florets is that there is less surface of cauliflower to douse in cheese sauce.  Mine had lots of sauce around the outside that, once cooked, we scooped up and spooned over the cauliflower.

Once the cauliflower is covered with sauce, then it is time to load it up with grated cheese and breadcrumbs.  This is not a moment to start thinking about your latest diet. 

Of course, once you see it baked with its gorgeous crispy cheese crust, it glows like the supermodel of the meal.  You will want to ignore all other dishes and just have a large spoonful of it on your plate.

However, as I mentioned, it is quite rich and with any luck there will be leftovers.  Because leftover cauliflower cheese is great.  You can bake it on a pizza, blend it to make a spread for sandwiches or put it into a soup.  Then your cauliflower cheese will be gone and you will want to make another batch all over again.

More cauliflower cheese love at Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cauliflower cheese soup (gf)
Cauliflower cheese macaroni
Leftover cauliflower cheese, vegetables and rice soup
My mum's cauliflower cheese 
Vegan cauliflower cheese (v) 

Whole cauliflower cheese
An original recipe from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 10-12

1 cauliflower head
2 dessertspoons of butter
2 tbsp plain flour (I used wholemeal)
1-3 cups milk (I used coconut milk)
2 packed cups cheddar cheese
1/4 cup gruyere
1 tsp seeded mustard
few pinches salt
grind of pepper
pinch herbs
extra cheese and breadcrumbs on top

Steam cauliflower head in a large saucepan with about 1-2 inches of water at the bottom.  Then turn off heat and leave while you make the sauce.

To make the sauce melt butter in a large saucepan or frypan.  Stir in flour to make a paste and stir for a few minutes until cooked - often it is easier to tell by smelling the cooked flour but you may notice a slight darkening in colour.  Gradually add the milk: just a little at first and stir until combined and creamy, continue to add in ever increasing amounts until the liquid becomes thin (this is when you stop adding: it should not be too thick as it will thicken more when you boil it and when you add cheese - you can always add a little extra milk later but it is more work to thicken).  Bring to the boil and it should thicken slightly but still be thinnish.  Now stir in the cheeses and it should thicken more.  Season with mustard, salt, pepper and herbs to taste.

Place the steamed cauliflower in a round medium baking dish.  Pour sauce over the top of the cauliflower.  It should be thick enough to cling to the cauliflower as it pours down the side.  Generously top with more grated cheese and breadcrumbs.

Bake at 200 C for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

NOTES: My sister often make a cauliflower cheese with a gluten free flour and it works well.

On the stereo: 
Word Gets Around: Stereophonics


  1. A vegetarian dish doesn't get much better than this, we love traditional cauliflower cheese but this takes it to the next level. Thanks for sharing, Cheers, Pauline

    1. Thanks Pauline - this is just a fun version of cauliflower cheese but I love it either way.

  2. What a clever idea! I'm thinking it would make a great Halloween idea too (as it is rather brain-like) :D

    1. Thanks Lorraine - but for halloween you might need some red in the sauce to make it even more creepy :-)

  3. ohmydaze! That is one gorgeous looking vegetarian dish. I esp. love the golden topping! I love it and am bookmarking to make the next time we have cauliflower in the house and its nippy! I would honeslty never have thought of serving it as part of roast dinner, but it makes absolute sense.

    1. Thanks Shaheen - I highly recommend cauliflower cheese with a roast dinner - we had it that way so often as a kid that it just completes a roast dinner for me. The cheese sauce is another nice sauce for the dinner and helps keep the peas on your fork (which is never easy for a kid)

    2. I made this your whole cauliflower cheese and showcased it on my IMK blog post. It was delicious,though my cauliflower was mini compared to yours

  4. How stunning this is so brilliant and I love that you have two cheeses in your cheesy, coconut sauce. It is very pretty and so practical, thanks for sharing :D

    1. Thanks Merryn - the sauce didn't taste much of coconut but I can imagine using thicker coconut milk might be interesting. I was pleased to have some gruyere kicking around to use as well as some of the cheddar.

  5. This looks impressive, it looks so much more fabulous than normal cauliflower cheese. I guess the steaming works well to get it fully tender.

  6. Oh my goodness.... WHOLE cauliflower cheese takes me straight back to my childhood. We always had it whole. Strangely, I always cut mine up before I cook, but I think maybe I should have a rethink xx


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