Cheesy Cauliflower Bake With Leeks
Looking for a delicious savoury, golden smoked cheesy cauliflower bake recipe?
This scrumptious dish redefines comfort food. It’s the perfect accompaniment to virtually any meal – complementing a classic roast beef or chicken dish.And it’s a great addition to your Easter feast!
You get cauliflower – and then you get cauliflower. For some, it stimulates childhood memories of lazy Sunday lunches and loads of melted cheese or old-school Béchamel sauce. For others, cauliflower was something you had to endure just to get to the dessert. And, until relatively recently, it’s a veg that was often tolerated in certain households rather than celebrated. But we’re about to change that.
This smoky, cheesy cauliflower bake is delicious, simple to make, and if required, can be prepared ahead of time, too.
Cheesy Cauliflower Bake: Indulgent, but Surprisingly Healthy
When it comes to extraordinarily healthy plant-based nutrition, cauliflower punches far above its weight. In fact, as a cruciferous veg, it’s rich in antioxidants which reduce inflammation, decrease cell damage, and help protect against chronic diseases. It’s heart-healthy and high in beneficial fibre.
If you’re gluten-averse, it’s also a great low-carb substitute for good old mac ‘n cheese. And because it offers such a rich, smoky flavour, you’re also adding a zesty Gremolata to cut through that richness and add a twist of herby lemon to an already decadent dish.
Choosing the Perfect Cauliflower for your Cheesy Cauliflower Bake
Picking out the best head of cauliflower for your cheesy cauliflower bake is part science, part art. So here are a couple of chef’s recommendations for you:
- The cauliflower you select should feel heavy in relation to its size – an indication of density.
- Choose cauliflower that has florets packed tightly together, with minimal separation or trace of wilting.
- The leaves (if any) should be a vibrant green with a rigid, crisp appearance.
- The whiter and cleaner the cauliflower, the better. Blemishes or scrapes indicate poor / excessive handling or a sub-par grade of produce.
- Freshly harvested cauliflower typically has a very subtle scent – almost unnoticeable. A pungent “vegetable” smell is a sign that it is beginning to degrade slightly.
Spill the Tea
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is Gremolata?
Gremolata is a parsley-based condiment somewhat similar to pesto or even chimichurri. It’s a traditional Italian side that does a wonderful job of providing a palate-cleansing contrast to foods that are typically rich in flavour.
In this version, the Gremolata simply combines the zesty freshness of lemon with a touch of garlic to liven up the deep herb freshness of the parsley and add an exciting contrast to the rich creaminess of the cheesy cauliflower bake.
Why should the cauliflower be roasted?
Cauliflower contains a lot of moisture, and roasting it allows some of that moisture to evaporate. This means intensified flavour, and prevents the cauliflower from becoming soggy or adding too much liquid to the cheese sauce.
Can I omit the leeks?
You could – but the leeks contribute toward a wonderfully cohesive, jammy consistency in the bake. They also offer a nuance of flavour that’s hard to achieve using a replacement. And they contrast nicely with the cauliflower. Go on. Add those leeks!
What is a roux?
A roux is a sauce typically made by combining melted butter and flour. In this recipe, it provides a wonderful base for our white sauce, which highlights the flavours of ingredients like the smoky cheese, herbs, and touch of mustard.