This cauliflower cheese recipe is rich in flavour with the addition of smoky chipotle chilli and a hint of mustard and is inspired by the deliciousness of Welsh Rarebit (a big favourite of Tommi’s). We had a very similar one on the Wahaca menu and it was a huge hit. Just make sure the cauliflower is allowed to steam-dry after cooking; nobody likes watery cauliflower cheese.
1 large cauliflower
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp stale breadcrumbs
30g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
For the sauce
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp English mustard powder
3-4 tsp finely chopped chipotles en adobo, optional
550ml whole milk
125g extra mature Cheddar cheese (or any cheese scraps in the fridge), grated
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
Several good gratings of nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F/gas 6.
Separate the cauliflower into medium-sized florets and cut up the stalk into roughly similar sized pieces. Steam with any of the smaller outer leaves for 4–5 minutes until just tender. Remove the lid of the steamer and set the cauliflower over a bowl to steam dry.
Now heat the butter in a non-stick pan and, when foaming, stir in the flour, mustard powder and chipotles (if using) and season with salt and pepper. Stir over a medium heat for a few minutes to cook out the ‘raw’ flavour of the flour, letting it bubble and toast. Now add a good glug of milk and whisk or beat with a non-scratch whisk or wooden spoon not worrying about its appearance – all will be well! Gradually add the rest of the milk, bit by bit, whisking or beating in between additions, finally ending up with a smooth, creamy sauce. Stir in the cheese, paprika and nutmeg and remove from heat. Check for seasoning.
Put the now thoroughly dry cauliflower in a shallow oven dish and scatter with the tomato halves. Pour over the cheese sauce and scatter with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake in the top of the oven for 20–25 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve at once with slices of buttered brown bread.