Thursday, 6 January 2011

Cauliflower Cheese with Broccoli and Bacon

This is a delicious and nutritious recipe that can easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the bacon or pancetta.  Sadly it is not a one pot meal, but it is so delicious the extra dishes are well worth it - and as the recipe steps can be done concurrently it doesn’t take very long to put together. Do use whole wheat pasta if you can as it makes this dish higher in both fibre and vitamins. Don’t worry about using extra oil with the bacon. It’s healthy oil and you need it to make the roux for the cheese sauce.

To serve four to six people generously you need:-

about 2 cups small broccoli florets
about 2 cups small cauliflower florets
2 cups whole wheat pasta shapes
(penne or fusilli work well, but any will do)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use olive)
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ cup chopped bacon or pancetta (Italian bacon)
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup grated cheese (I use cheddar or gruyere)
1½ to 2 cups milk
2 to 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

In a large saucepan of boiling water or in a steamer over boiling water, cook the broccoli and cauliflower florets until just tender crisp. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. 

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat, and gently sauté the onion until it begins to go translucent. Add the bacon or pancetta and fry for about five minutes until it is almost cooked.

Sprinkle the flour over the onion and bacon and stir to coat. Begin to gradually add the milk, whisking after each addition, working to make a smooth sauce. Stir in the cheese and allow it to melt, adding a bit more milk if necessary. Whisk in the mustard.

When the pasta is cooked, reserve a ladle full of pasta water, and then drain the pasta, returning it to the pan. Add the drained broccoli and cauliflower, the cheese sauce and just enough of the pasta water to make a light sauce. The sauce should just coat the pasta, and not be too runny. If it is still too thick after adding all the water, just add a tiny bit more milk.

Heat through and serve. This is lovely with hot rolls or crusty bread.


  1. delicious. it has all the food stuff I love - dream on a plate. Must make at once. Or tonight :) Wonder though if it works with my Guinness-flavoured cheddar.
    Thanks for the wonderful idea.

  2. I'm so glad you like the sound of it! I imagine it would be lovely with Guinness-flavoured cheddar - it could add a whole new dimension to the dish!


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