Cauliflower cheese represents a timeless British comfort dish. Traditionally, this involves coating the cauliflower with a creamy white sauce (béchamel) and Cheddar cheese, then baking it until it becomes bubbly and golden.While it can be enjoyed as a side dish, it frequently takes center stage as a satisfying main course, especially for a modest lunch or dinner.
- Salt and Black pepper
- 2 heads cauliflower about 1½ pounds each
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter plus extra for greasing the pan
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk or half-and-half
- A small pinch of grated nutmeg
- A small pinch of ground cayenne pepper
- 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese about 3 ounces
- 1 cup grated provolone or Asiago cheese about 3 ounces
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese about 4 ounces
- ½ teaspoon cumin caraway, or fennel seed
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Using a paring knife, remove the tough core from the bottom of each cauliflower. Lower the cauliflower into the boiling water one at a time and cook for 5 minutes. Remove and let them cool. Alternatively, cut the cauliflower into large florets, cook for 3 minutes, and then spread them out to cool.
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and cook the mixture for about a minute without letting it brown.
- Gradually whisk in the milk, adding ½ cup at a time, and simmer the mixture between each addition until all the milk is incorporated. Whisk thoroughly, then let it simmer over low heat for approximately 5 minutes—season with salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, and a touch of cayenne. Keep the sauce warm.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and arrange the blanched cauliflower side by side. Stir the Cheddar cheese into the sauce and spoon it evenly over the cauliflower. Sprinkle the grated provolone and crumbled feta on top. If using florets, arrange them in a single layer in the baking dish. Sprinkle with cumin seeds, if desired.
- Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and golden brown. Sprinkle with parsley and serve directly from the baking dish.