Regular readers and viewers will know of my love with roast cauliflower. I ate it first on a food trend-spotting trip to Tel Aviv with M&S and it was the stand out dish in three days of stand out food. Now, I can’t believe I ever used to boil it. I mean, what was I thinking!?
Anyhow, I once ate an entire roast cauliflower to myself and whilst I can’t claim to have been good company that night – due to some of the brassica’s well-documented side effects – it is now my go-to favourite vegetable. Luckily – unlike some fancier vegetables – you can buy it just about anywhere, so it is the ultimate solution to an empty cupboard and an uninspired mind. Of which I frequently have both. Now autumn is drawing nigh, I am less likely to put it in a salad with some walnuts and green leaves and more likely to put it in a macaroni cheese with ham, and fried leeks if I am minded.
I made this recipe using food from Costcutter’s Independent label. For many year’s Costcutter, who sponsored this post, was my local supermarket and I would scour its shelves for late night, after work inspiration. The Independent brand is also available at Kwiksave and Mace and, when I used it, seemed not only good quality but good value too.
Costcutter partner with Lanchester wines who suggested drinking their Orario, Pinot Grigio Australian white, with this. It is only 11% alcohol which makes it the ideal mid-week drink at around a fiver a bottle it won’t break the bank either.
Takes: 20m plus 30m cooking time
Serves: 2 greedy people
120g Penne pasta
40 g plain Flour
Handful Cheddar cheese
Couple of slices of Ham torn up
Handful of breadcrumbs and some grated Parmesan.
Cut the cauliflower into florets and toss in the oil, salt and pepper and roast for 20m at 180c. Normally I would serve it charred but it is going to be cooked twice – once again with the pasta – so don’t overdo it. Place on the bottom of an ovenproof dish.
Meanwhile make the roux sauce. Put the butter in the pan and when it has melted add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it is combined to a paste. Cook on a medium heat for a minute (this is to get rid of the floury taste) and then add the milk a splash at a time. Stir quickly to get rid of the lumps. Once all the milk is added the sauce should have thickened but it is very forgiving. If it is lumpy then you can sieve it. If it is not thick enough, you can add more cheese than planned. Easy. Season and add the cheese (I used Cheddar but a lovely blue cheese also works well here – or a mixture of whatever you have in the fridge) and stir until it has melted.
Take off the heat and cover with clingfilm. You will need it in a minute.
Make the pasta according to the instructions. Drain and add the sauce and ham. Gently mix and pour over the cooked cauliflower. Sprinkle over the Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Cook for 20-30m or until hot through and bubbling on top.
Other things that are nice to add are a handful of fried leeks, some sweetcorn, wilted kale or spinach.