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Cauliflower Cheese Recipe Served With Baked Potatoes and Baked Tomatoes

As a vegetarian, I am always looking for innovative ways to make meals interesting and tasty, as well as nutritious, for the whole family.

Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower Cheese

Traditional British Dish

Cauliflower Cheese is a traditional British dish dating back to the 17th century where a cauliflower is lightly steamed, split into individual florets, covered in cheese sauces and baked in the oven for about half an hour.

It may be served on its own as a small meal or served with other vegetables such as peas and tomato or baked potatoes and baked tomatoes etc.

If You Can Make Cheese Sauce You Can Make Cauliflower Cheese

A very tasty and simple dish we have from time to time as a treat. In the past my wife has always made it because (although I can cook most things) I never got the hang of making the cheese sauce; that is until recently, when I stumbled across a 1940s wartime recipe for cheese sauce that works a charm.

Therefore for the cauliflower cheese I've adapted the 1940s recipe for the cheese sauce, and share its secrets here, so others who also struggle with cheese sauces may wish to give this a try. If on the other hand you don't have problems with your cheese sauces then continue making it the way you normally do; the difference isn't in the ingredients but in how and when those ingredients are mixed.

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

45 min

1 hour

2 to 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 2 oz (50 g) margarine (or butter)
  • 2 oz (50 g) plain flour
  • 1 pt (460 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon of English mustard
  • 6 oz (150 g) grated hard cheese for the cheese sauce e.g. cheddar cheese
  • 2 oz (50 g) grated hard cheese (for topping) e.g. cheddar cheese and 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese for additional flavouring.

Instructions

  1. Bring a saucepan (one third filled with water) to the boil, or prepare a steamer.
  2. Remove all the green outer leaves from the cauliflower and cut a deep cross in the bottom of the cauliflower's steam.
  3. Lightly steam the cauliflower for ten minutes in a steamer or suitable colander with lid over a saucepan of boiling water; and when cooked leave to cool a bit so that you can handle it.
  4. While the cauliflower is cooling make the cheese sauce starting by melting a knob of margarine (or butter) in a saucepan heated to a high temperature on the hob.
  5. Once the margarine is melted tip the flour and milk together into the saucepan (before the flour has had a chance to absorb the margarine) and stir briskly with a whisk until the sauce begins to boil and thickens.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the hob; add a teaspoon of English mustard and of the grated cheese and gently mix until all the cheese is melted.
  7. Grease a baking tray with margarine.
  8. Once the cauliflower has cooled enough to handle cut or break all the cauliflower florets from the thick main stem and cut the main stem into thick chunks.
  9. Place the individual cauliflower florets, and stem chunks, into the baking tray and spread them out evenly.
  10. Evenly pour the cheese sauce over the top of the cauliflower florets.
  11. Top the cheese sauce with the rest of the grated cheese and a light sprinkling of parmesan cheese to taste.
  12. Place the baking tray with the cauliflower cheese in the oven and bake at 200C (gas mark 6) for about 30 or until the cauliflower cheese is a golden brown. Then remove from oven and serve immediately for a tasty and traditional British meal.

Serving Suggestions

Main Meal

Serve with baked potatoes and baked tomatoes.

Beverages

A glass of milk or a white wine with the meal or coffee afterwards.

Below are the full menu instructions, with illustrations, for preparing and cooking this wholesome tasty dish including the baked potatoes and tomatoes; followed by tips and ideas on what to do with the leftovers if you make too much.

Origin and History of Cauliflower Cheese

Traditional British Meal

Cauliflower cheese is a very British menu that may date back to the 17th Century. Cauliflowers were first introduced into Britain in the 17th century and although it's not certain all the indications is that cauliflower cheese dates back from about this time; served as part of the Sunday Lunch during the long winter months when nutritional food was scarce. Certainly it was a recipe (with Parmesan cheese) in the famous 'Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management' published in 1861.

Unlike a lot of basic food recipes that are versatile and will often go with most things cauliflower cheese is a fussy dish that doesn't go well with a lot of foods so you do have to be a little careful in selecting what else, if anything, you're going to serve with your cauliflower cheese.

Traditionally cauliflower cheese is served with the Sunday Lunch (Sunday Roast) e.g. meat and two veg with gravy. However, it does make a meal on its own which is often a popular option these days; and for vegetarians, serving with baked potatoes is often a popular choice.

The menu portrayed in this recipe article is for cauliflower cheese with baked potatoes and baked tomatoes as a tasty vegetarian menu; making the cheese sauce using the 1940s cooking instructions with some minor variations of my own.

Initial Menu Preparation

All the recipes say 30 minutes or less although in practice it's more likely to be closer to 40 minutes. With lots of preparation in a short time, including making the cheese sauce, this where you can practice your multitasking skills and utilise them to their best; rather than following the tasks step by step, which will take longer. Get yourself organised, know where everything is and be confident it's all too hand; ingredients and cooking utensils.

  1. Wash the potatoes, cut any rotten bits out and remove any green skin; otherwise keep the good skin intact e.g. as if preparing to make baked potatoes. Then microwave them until cooked (as you would for baked potatoes); or if you don't have a microwave place them in a saucepan and boil in water on the hob until cooked, about 20 minutes.
  2. Once the potatoes are cooking if you don't have a steamer find a large Saucepan and lid to fit a Colander, fill it a third with water and place on the hob to boil; while you're waiting for the water to come up to boiling temperature prepare the cauliflower.
  3. Remove all the green outer leaves from the cauliflower.
  4. Cut a deep cross in the bottom of the cauliflower's steam.
  5. Place the cauliflower in the colander, put the lid on top and steam for ten minutes.
  6. While the cauliflower is steaming start preparing the cheese sauce by weighing and measuring all the required ingredients and lay it out in front of you so it's too hand with all the appropriate kitchen utensils.
  7. Grate the cheese needed for the sauce.
Ingredients for cauliflower cheese with baked potato and tomato

Ingredients for cauliflower cheese with baked potato and tomato

Making the Cheese Sauce

Using Your Favourite Hard Cheese or a Selection of Cheeses

Now comes the tricky bit which I use to always fail until I read a 1940s recipe; actually making the cheese sauce. You can use your favourite hard cheese or a selection of cheeses; for this recipe I used cheddar cheese broken into small pieces and a light sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

  1. Put the margarine (or butter) in a saucepan and place on the hob (on a high temperature) to melt.
  2. As soon as all the margarine has melted tip the flour into the saucepan and immediately start to add the milk (before the flour has had a chance to absorb the margarine) stirring briskly with a whisk as the milk is being added. If you start to mix the flour into the margarine before sufficient milk is added the flour will clump together and not blend with the milk. You may find it easier to momentarily remove the saucepan from the heat while you add the milk.
  3. Continue heating the margarine, flour and milk mix; briskly whisking the whole time with the whisk until the mix begins to boil and thickens.
  4. Remove the mix from the heat, add a teaspoon of English mustard and the grated cheese, and gently mix the grated cheese in with the whisk until melted.

Tips for Making Cheese Sauce

For the cheese sauce ingredients I suggested:-

  • 2 oz (50 g) margarine (or butter)
  • 2 oz (50 g) plain flour
  • 1 pt (460 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon of English mustard
  • 6 oz (150 g) grated hard cheese e.g. cheddar

For this recipe you may find that 1 pint of milk gives you more than ample cheese sauce, if so ideas for what to do with surplus cheese sauce are given below. Surplus cheese sauce will keep quite happily in the fridge for a few days and can be re-used in many recipes at a moment's notice just by momentarily reheating it in the microwave e.g. 30 seconds, just to liquefy it again for pouring.

From my experience I've learnt that precise amounts of any of the ingredients are not critical, so with a bit of practice you can vary the quantities yourself to taste. For example the margarine is only needed as a lubricant to stop the flour from burning in the saucepan so regardless to the quantity of the other ingredients you only need a knob of butter (or margarine). The flour adds thickness to the mix and the milk makes it more liquid so these can be varied in combination to tweak the consistency of your sauce; and the more cheese you add the cheesier the sauce is. However, don’t overdo it on the flour otherwise you could end up with a sauce that’s a little too thick and doughy.

Also, rather than sticking to just one type of hard cheese, adding a range of cheeses, if you have them to hand, adds to the flavour; in particular just a spoonful of blue cheese e.g. stilton and a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese added to main cheese can add a lot of flavour to your cheese sauce mix.

Making Cheese Sauce

Making Cheese Sauce

Final Preparation

Bring it all Together Ready for Baking

  1. Once the potatoes are cooked leave to cool; until cool enough to handle.
  2. Once the cauliflower has been steaming for ten minutes remove and leave to cool; until cool enough to handle.

While Waiting for the Potatoes and Cauliflower to Cool

  1. Grease two baking trays with margarine.
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half and place in one of the baking trays.
  3. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle cut them in half if small potatoes or quarters longitudinally (lengthwise) for larger potatoes and place them in the baking tray along with the tomatoes.

Once the Cauliflower has Cooled Enough to Handle

  1. Cut or break all the cauliflower floret from the thick main stem.
  2. Cut the main stem into thick chunks (waste not, want not).
  3. Place the individual cauliflower florets and the chunks of steam into the second baking tray and spread them out evenly.
  4. Evenly pour the cheese sauce over the top of the cauliflower florets.
  5. Top the cheese sauce with a little more grated cheese and a light sprinkling of parmesan cheese to taste.
Cauliflower cheese ready for baking

Cauliflower cheese ready for baking

Cooking and Serving Suggestions

Cooking Time 30 mins

  1. Place the baking tray with the cauliflower cheese on the top oven shelf.
  2. Place the other baking tray containing the potatoes and tomatoes on the middle oven shelf.
  3. Cook on 200C (gas mark 6) for about 30 or 40 minutes, or until the cauliflower cheese is a golden brown. Most recipes suggest 30 minutes, although in practice it could be nearer to 40 minutes.
  4. Once cooked remove from oven and serve.

Serving Suggestions

Traditionally cauliflower cheese is served with a full Sunday Roast but as a vegetarian dish it can be served with just potatoes and a selection of vegetables, often baked potatoes; or alternatively served on its own as a complete meal.

What to do if You Have Too Much Cheese Sauce or Cauliflower Cheese

Make a Second Dish for the Following Day

Such as Potato and Cauliflower Cheese Pie

If you used a small cauliflower you may have surplus cheese sauce which can either be generously poured over the whole meal including the potatoes and baked tomatoes; or you may wish to save the rest of the cheese sauce (in the fridge once it's cooled) for use in another menu. Alternatively, if you're using a small cauliflower you may wish to make less cheese sauce in the first place proportionately reducing the quantity of ingredients.

If there's too much cauliflower cheese, which you've opted to put in the fridge overnight, you can use it to top a potato pie as part of a meal the following evening.

If you have any cauliflower cheese left, and which has been placed in the fridge overnight, it can be used as a basis for making a simple and tasty potato pie the following evening, as follows:-

  1. Boil and mash some potatoes. It's not necessary to add any salt to the potatoes but optionally you could add a spoonful of English mustard and some chopped onion when mashing the potatoes.
  2. Place the leftover cauliflower cheese in the bottom of a casserole dish.
  3. Layer the mashed potato on top.
  4. Add some thinly sliced tomatoes on top of the mashed potato and top with a thin layer of grated cheese and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake in the oven, 200C (gas mark 6) for 30 or 40 minutes, or until the pie is fully cooked and the cheese is a golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and serve with baked beans, and optionally with one or two fried eggs.
Potato and Cauliflower Cheese Pie

Potato and Cauliflower Cheese Pie

The Ease of Making Cheese Sauce

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Arthur Russ

Your experiences and you Tips for making cheese sauce

Arthur Russ (author) from England on June 15, 2017:

Thank you all for your feedback, which as always, is greatly appreciated.

Vikki from US on February 09, 2013:

Looks and sounds really de-lish!

SteenBiilmann LM on February 09, 2013:

Looks delicious and easy to make. Just up my alley:-) Thanks for a nice lens:-)

Nnadi bonaventure Chima from Johanesburg on February 09, 2013:

Looks yummy ,am already salivating

anonymous on February 01, 2013:

I do it in the microwave stirring every 3 minutes. Works for me.

TedWritesStuff on January 31, 2013:

Love a good blue cheese sauce! Yum.

Jogalog on January 31, 2013:

I love cheese sauce made with a good strong cheese. There's nothing worst than using a mild cheese that leaves the sauce with only a hint of cheesy flavour. I also like to sprinkle extra grated cheese on the top. Yum!

MissKeenReviewer on January 30, 2013:

I just add a bit of water so as not to burn the grated cheese. I do this on the stove top under low heat.

john9229 on January 29, 2013:

yummy! my lovely food, cheese + baked potatoes

anonymous on January 21, 2013:

Stopping back just to say yum!

SteveKaye on January 17, 2013:

Wow! Does this look delicious. Thank you for publishing this lens.

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on December 16, 2012:

A good double boiler is essential for a recipe like this one. Thanks for the great photos and instructions. This recipe sounds tasty!

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on October 11, 2012:

As usual, your lens is informative, pleasing to look at and always nicely done with original photos. Bravo! Enjoy reading your pages. :)

anonymous on September 07, 2012:

Ok, I'm just waking up...but, I'd like to try this recipe of your. Could I please have a serving with some hot coffee. - I'll wait right here. :)

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